Focus on intellectual disability at sports day

Sibongile Klaas, 20, from Nonnceba Training Workshop Unlimited (TWU) in Khayelitsha outran Sasha-Lee Brown, 21, from the Athlone TWU in the basket race.

Trainees in a Cape Mental Health project took part in a sports day, last week, as part of a campaign to create awareness about intellectual disability.

March is Intellectual Disability Awareness Month, and Cape Mental Health spokesperson Barbara Meyer says it is an opportune time for people living with intellectual disability to make their voices heard.

The awareness campaign calls for community inclusion after almost two years of Covid-19 and lockdown isolation, she says.

“People living with intellectual disability are already excluded from day-to-day activities, like mainstream schools, affordable and accessible public transport, access to jobs with the necessary support in place, and community activities. For them, Covid-19 has only exacerbated this isolation. They want the same things as everybody else. They want a sense of belonging and purpose, and a chance to make friends and enjoy life.

“Unfortunately, many people are held back because of the stigma and bullying they endure as a result of people’s ignorance about the rights of persons with intellectual disability and discrimination. The reality is that people with intellectual disability have been excluded from their communities for much longer than the past two years. This is why this year’s Intellectual Disability Awareness Month is dedicated to its theme, ’Ensuring inclusion for persons with intellectual disability’,” Ms Meyer said.

As part of the campaign, Training Workshops Unlimited (TWU), a project of Cape Mental Health, hosted trolley and shopping basket races, as well as a dance-off. The event on Wednesday included TWU trainees from its Athlone, Retreat, Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha facilities. The event was held at TWU in Athlone.

Thomas Bezuidenhout, the general manager of TWU, said the programme had 640 adults with intellectual disabilities who were trained to prepare them for the open labour market.

“At the moment, we have 100 trainees placed in the job market. We work on a six-phase programme, which includes a bridging and support programme, a readiness stimulator, CV writing, travel costing and supported employment. The latter involves having a job coach. Today is an interfacility sports day. Although there are prizes for the winners, the biggest winner is to desensitise intellectual disability. Many don’t socialise in the community, because of a lot of stigma. We want positive change that includes people with intellectual disabilities,” Mr Bezuidenhout said.

Berenice Smith, Mawande Ntuli and Jeremiah Kasper from the Mitchell’s Plain TWU cheer on their fellow athletes.
Thulani Bulani, 20, from Nonceba TWU won his basket race. The runners had to fill their baskets with three items during the race.
The Athlone TWU trainees show off their moves during the dance competition.
The Retreat TWU trainees compete in the dance competition.
The Nonceba TWU crew’s spirit during their dance was contagious.
The Mitchell’s Plain trainees had the other teams bouncing to their tune.