Inclusive Physical Activity Welcomed By Learners with Disabilities
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport partnered with the Boland Sport Culture Union and others to host an Intellectual Disability Schools Sport Day in Paarl on Tuesday, 29 January 2013. This athletics event included track and field activities (excluding high jump). All sectors of the intellectually impaired community participated, including learners with Down’s syndrome.
Increasing the participation of persons with disability in physical activity is an important goal of the Department. A physically inactive lifestyle is associated with substantial health risks. One of the many barriers persons with disabilities face is limited opportunities to improve their own health.
The sporting action took place at the Dal Josaphat Stadium and was hosted by Ligstraal School. About 700 participants from LSEN [learners with special educational needs] schools such as Alta du Toit School, Dorothea School, Eden School, Lentegeur School, Rusthof School, Stellenbosch Work Center, Sunfield and Ligstraal were excited to be able to compete.
Ms Agnetha Jeftha of the Directorate: Sport Promotion said the Department promoted its MOD [Mass participation, Opportunity and access, Development and growth] programme at the event by circulating outreach material. “Participation at the games today provided the athletes with an opportunity to qualify for the annual Summer National Games competition,” she said.
It was a fun-filled day. As Ms Jeftha noted, “even the scorching weather didn’t derail the determination and the perseverance of the kids to win and enjoy themselves”. Meanwhile, Mr Pieter Lourens of Boland Athletics highlighted the tremendous discipline displayed by participants and expressed his gratitude to the educators who support them.
The event highlighted that, together, partners can nurture talent in the disability sector from school level. Providing opportunities to persons with disabilities to play sport is helping to make the slogan “Nothing About Us, Without Us” a reality.