While sport is known to have tremendous benefits for those involved, the lack of facilities for disabled people is preventing them from experiencing how physical activity can improve their lives.
This was among the sentiments shared at a Freedom Day event held at Gugulethu Sports Complex last Wednesday when people with disabilities gathered to talk about their rights, including their right to play sport.
The theme of the event was “Disability Rights beyond Covid-19 Era” .
Speakers said a lack of appropriate equipment, coupled with a lack of professionals trained to support physical activity among people and youth with different ability levels, discouraged participation by people with disabilities.
Manager of Vuk’uhambe Self Help Association, Thozi Mciki encouraged those with disabilities to ensure they were represented in all community forums.
“They know best what their varied needs are – and their solutions. This is a day where we will also learn and do some sport codes to show the world that we can.
“But we have a problem with facilities that are not accommodating our people. That derails most of us from playing sports. This is also the day to remind people with disabilities to rise up for what is theirs and their rights,” he said.
Mr Mciki said while he was grateful to the organisations and government departments which had supported the event, more needed to be done to accommodate people with disabilities in sport and in the community.
“The day was successful and thanks to those who supported the day. We were happy to see Qhakaza Disabled Group, Disability Rights Matters, Vukuzenzele Physical Group, Donovan from IEC, Woman Circle, Disable People South Africa, Ward 39 councillor Thembinkosi Njuza, Social Development and Parks and Recreation and all supporting volunteers who made the occasion colourful,” said Mr Mciki
Tiny Galeka, who was among the coaching volunteers, pronounced that the word “disability” should be phased out.
“The preferable description instead should be ‘visibility’ because our disability is visible hence society distances itself from us. Yet, we are able in all senses,” he told the gathering.
Ward councillor 39, Thembinkosi Njuza said his ward was doing everything it could to accommodate people with disabilities – and that he had allocated part of his ward’s budget to assist them.
He also proposed a meeting with parents of children with disabilities.