On Saturday the 24th September 2011 the Sport Science Department, Stellenbosch University was a buzz of excitement. Bridging Abilities in collaboration with the Sport Science Department hosted a fun sports day for children with physical disabilities.
Bridging Abilities is a new NPO based in Stellenbosch, who was started by Candace Vermaak and Toni Mould. Candace is a Biokineticist in training and Adapted Physical Activity Specialist and Toni is a Social Worker who herself is a person with Cerebral Palsy. They shared a dream of establishing an organisation which caters for persons with physical and intellectual disabilities, fostering personal and social development through sport, recreation and rehabilitation. Bridging Abilities teamed up with the Sport Science Department and the Kinder Kinetics division under the supervision of Suzanne Ferreira a well known coach for Paralympic track and field athletes, namely Hilton Langenhoven and Fanie van der Merwe.
The layout and accessibility of the department allowed students with various disabilities including those with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, amputations, visual impairments and legally blind children to participate. The participants came from different parts of the Western Cape and included children and staff members from Athlone School for the blind, Astra School and individuals from various parts of Khayelitsha. Together with the staff, the training of the third year sport science students and knowledge of the Kinder Kinetics honours students under the supervision of Candace Vermaak and Suzanne Ferreira it provided a dynamic team that made the day specific to each child’s needs. The Sports Science students were enthusiastic and jumped in to assist where ever needed and to some extent might have enjoyed it more than the children. Support was also provided from RESPO International, which brought along their volunteers and students from the Greater Bulls in Mitchell’s Plain, the Khayelitsha Sport Organization for Disabled and the Ravensmead Disability Forum.
A total of 45 children, 40 third year volunteers, 11 Kinder Kinetics honours students and 40 additional staff and community members attended day. The day started off with ice breakers and dividing of the children into three groups for the activities. The three groups were rotated through various activities and sports such as obstacles courses, blind futsal, soccer, sitting volleyball, basketball, bowling and various balloon and bubble blowing activities where free play was encouraged. The activities ended on a high with some of the Kinder Kinetics students teaching the children a Zumba dance, which was not only enjoyed by the children, but also the teachers and volunteers. This was a very successful end to the day’s activities. The children thoroughly enjoyed the day and this was reflected by one boy in a wheelchair who said “this was really well organized” with a chuffed look on his face.
After the activities everyone was famished, and the tummies were satisfied with a chicken spit braai done by Braai World in celebration of National Braai day and of course two big cakes, since this day was a celebration of each child’s individual abilities.
Bridging Abilities would like to thank their sponsors Trade for Life (Pty) Ltd, the students, the head of the Sport Science Department, Prof. E. Terblanche for providing the facilities, members of the community who came to support this event, the BA board members’ support, the photographer Liezie van der Walt and the teachers and parents who brought the children, as without them this day would not have been possible.
Future events are being scheduled for 2012. If you would like to get involved, participate or sponsor one of the events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.