International Day for the Disabled Celebrated in Napier
Disability sector athletes from across the Western Cape enjoyed a fun-filled day of sport at the International Day for Persons with a Disability event in Napier on Saturday, 30 November 2013.
The event was hosted by Disability Sport Western Cape (DISWEC), the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS), the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and Cape Agulhas Municipality in celebration of Disability Rights Awareness Month.
International Day for Persons with a Disability is observed every year on 3 December to celebrate people across the world living with disabilities. Various sporting codes such as dominoes, tug-of-war, mini cricket, five-a-side soccer, netball, indigenous games, bowls and wheelchair basketball were on offer.
The Western Cape Government is committed to promoting sport in the disability sector. DCAS has supported persons with disabilities through funding major events and has provided conditional grant funding through DISWEC to all disability structures in the province. This has made it possible for Western Cape athletes with disabilities to travel to international events.
Ms Nicolette Pietersen of DCAS Sport Promotion said this kind of sport is not new, but the full potential of sport for persons with disabilities as a powerful, low-cost means to foster their greater inclusion and well-being is only now being realised. “Sport works to improve the inclusion and well-being of persons with disabilities in two ways: by changing what the communities think and feel about persons with disabilities; and by changing what people with disabilities think and feel about themselves.”
Mr Arthur Cowley of WCED paid tribute to the athletes for breaking down barriers and opening doors to an inclusive society. He thanked those who provide voluntary service to the disability sector.
The event promoted public awareness of the rights and capabilities of persons with disabilities and the importance of ensuring their full participation in society. Ragmat Rooi of Mandla Sport for Change from Ravensmead enjoyed competing in wheelchair basketball. “Sport participation is good for my health and makes me feel good about myself.”
The use of athletes with disabilities can be powerful means of creating positive change in public perception. Athletes who competed on the day left the venue with a sense of belonging and inspired by the words, “You are a winner by heart. Capability is in your heart and mind.”