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South Africa: South Africans with Disabilities Given Opportunity to Shine
Source: SA - the Good News
Source Date: Monday, December 02, 2013
Country: South Africa
Created: Dec 02, 2013

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu watched the South African national wheelchair basketball team competing against the Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital wheelchair basket ball team. In addition to wheelchair basketball, athletes participated in other wheelchair events such as quad racing, hockey, soccer, volleyball, races, as well as in shot put and tug-of-war. The South African national wheelchair rugby team also played in a demonstration rugby game.
Senior Netcare management team members, including group chief executive officer, Dr Richard Friedland, as well as many doctors, nurses and nursing services managers involved in the treatment and care of individuals with disabilities at Netcare hospitals, attended the day to show their support. According to Van Vuuren, one of South Africa's greatest swimmers, Penny Heyns, was an inspirational presence, as was well-known Afrikaans singer, Mathys Roets.
Addressing the event, Mrs Bogopane-Zulu said people with disabilities were very close to her heart, particularly as she was born visually impaired and had to learn to cope with that challenge. She pointed out that events such as the Netcare Rehabilitation Sports Day show that people with disabilities are as talented and capable as anyone else.
Mrs Bogopane-Zulu indicated that her department regards it as a priority to integrate individuals with disabilities into mainstream society and economy, from which they are still greatly excluded because they are often perceived as being incapable. She noted that, 15 years ago, little was done to support people with disabilities in South Africa but that the country has come a long way since then. Much remains to be done, however, particularly on educating South Africans about the importance of accepting people with disabilities and recognising that they have a contribution to make. She praised companies such as Netcare for placing an emphasis on empowering people with disabilities and welcoming them as valuable staff members.
Dr Richard Friedland said the event was "uplifting as it was such a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit". He commended Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital for organising the sports day, which had become an annual highlight in the lives of many people as well as being a stand out event in the Netcare corporate calendar. "Not only does the event demonstrate that sport can be used therapeutically to promote physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but many participants find it empowering to see that they are not alone in their challenges."
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