Pupils urged to support disabled

School principal Matthew Blaauw, third from right, is pictured with learners who attended One 2 One event. From left are Shante Benjamin, Aasiyah Abrahams, Danielle Nune, Jordan Alexander and Ashar Ruiters.

The principal of Hazeldene Primary School has urged other public schools to participate in annual One 2 One event to give support to people living with disability and also to show ubuntu.

The event, an annual fair for the mentally and physically disabled, was recently held on the grounds of the Cape Town Stadium.

Hazeldene’s principal, Matthew Blaauw, said his school was the only one from Mitchell’s Plain which had been involved in the event.

“This is an annual event for disabled people, ranging from the age of 2 years old upwards to adults.

All the people who are disabled from the entire province were invited to attend the One 2 One. They were the special guests.

“We were there only public school from Mitchells Plain that participated in that event … others were private schools.”

He added that the school’s pupils had been volunteering at the event for more than 10 years.

“Our school is not financially stable but we believe that it is more important to give than to receive. Every year we participate to help underprivileged learners,” said Mr Blaauw, adding that the school chose five learners to represent them in the event.

“Learners who attended the event were part of Soul Buddyz and health groups in the school. And part of their responsibility is to use that experience to promote healthy living and anti-bullying.

“We chose learners who showed leadership skills, to represent us. And we would like to challenge other schools to be part of the project because the more school participating, the more people living with disabilities will benefit,” he said.

He said bullying was a challenge at many schools.

“The common thing among pupils is bullying and making fun of each other.”

He added that disabled children often bore the brunt of bullying, with their fellow pupils often making fun of the way they walk or talk.

“It is important that people know that the disabled also need to be treated with respect and dignity,” he said.

Grade 7 pupil Danielle Nune, 13, who was among those who attended the One 2 One, said the event had changed her perception of people living with disabilities.

“I thought they were different, but when I got there they were friendly.

“They think like us, it’s just that they were created differently,” she said.

Aasiyah Abrahams, also in Grade 7, described the event as an eye-opener which thought her to understand other people instead of judging them. “It was my first time attending such kind of event. And it also pushes me to do more to assist other needy people,” she said.

Parent and school governing body member Gayline Samaai said the event had taught those inolved, about ubuntu.

“It encourages learners to stop bullying or harassing each other. It unites everyone irrespective of living with disability or not,” she said.