Where there’s a wheel, there’s always a way…

KARL BERGEMANN

While most were enjoying a lazy Monday in on Human Rights Day, some bounding wheelchair users were making tracks on the Sea Point Promenade with the aim of vocalising their own, often-overlooked rights as well as enjoying a morning out with their wheelchair-bound brethren.

Wheel * Walk organiser, Kamile Abbas, who heads up the Things on Wheels organisation, was happy to see so many smiles on the happy faces that wheeled their way down the promenade.

“Everyone does their big walks but I wanted to do a wheel * walk so that people in wheel chairs can also share in this type of get together. We started off small, five years ago, with around 50 people and we have grown to around 250 people but I believe one day we will have over a thousand joining in.

“We are happy with the turnout and the excellent vibe experienced on the day. It is heartwarming to see so many excited faces on the people who have come out of their homes and down to the sea side.

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“Some of the participants have never seen the sea before. Those smiles on their faces made my day. Money can’t buy that.

“Our organisation, Things on Wheels, feeds around 2 000 people a month and engages in many projects that serve the poor and needy. We feed 600 school pupils a day and last year we helped 490 schools with feeding schemes. Our goal is simply to make the less fortunate happy.

“With regards to wheelchair users, people should be made aware of the issues they face and realise that they should be treated the same as anyone else,” he said.

Lending a helping hand on the day was Tafelsig’s Anthony George, who heads up the Greater Bulls Disabled Sports Club as project coordinator and took responsibility for raising awareness of the Wheel * Walk event and made sure that participants got there and back safely.

“The event was held in aid of Things on Wheels’ campaign to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities. They do a lot of outreach work and distribute wheelchairs to those in need. It was a really enjoyable day for all and a perfect way to celebrate Human Rights Day at the same time.

“We have a number of upcoming events planned as well as a big wheelchair race that we are putting together for November. We will have a roadshow starting in May that will encourage disabled people to participate in sports and promote a healthy lifestyle by partnering with local community centres and the City’s sports and recreation councils.

“Some of the biggest challenges faced by the disabled on a daily basis are transport issues, a lack of job-based training and a high rate of unemployment. Our dream is to get more disabled people working instead of relying on a disability grant from the government. All the legislation is in place to make this happen but it is simply not being implemented.

“At a base level government officials should get sensitisation training on how to deal with disabled people and this training should be provided by the disabled themselves. I have a small business and want to encouraged others to start their own as a means of dealing with the unemployment issues,” he said.