With the amazing performances of the London Paralympics still fresh in our minds, Bridging Abilities, Inspire2Become and the Stellenbosch Sport Science Department hosted a Paralympic Awareness Day for youth with disabilities on the 20th October. On the morning of the event, the registration area was a hub of excitement as, upon arrival, the learners each received a name tag, a bottle of water and were allocated a group in which they would be doing the activities.
After a short welcoming by Candace Vermaak, Co- Executive director of Bridging Abilities, Fanie van der Merwe, Co-Executive Director of Inspire2Become, gave a short speech in which he shared some of his experiences at the London 2012 Paralympics. After Fanie’s motivational speech about how he persevered after the initial disappointment of his 200m race, it was time for the games to begin. The children who had a variety of disabilities including spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, amputations, cerebral palsy, visual impairments and legally blind, went into three separate halls to enjoy their first activity. In each hall there were a range of activities such as sitting volleyball, basketball, obstacle courses, boccia and free play activities. The layout of the department once again allowed the kids with mobility disabilities to move around independent.
Adding to the excitement of the day was the fact that a handful of Paralympic athletes joined in the activities of the day. Anrune Liebenberg (2012 Paralympic women’s 200m T46 bronze medallist and 400m silver medallist), Roxy Burns( Para-cyclist), Zanele Situ (2000 and 2004 medalist in the F54/55 javelin catergory) and Fanie van der Merwe (2012 100m T37 gold medallist), spent the morning sharing their experiences as well as participating in the activities with the children. The activities were fabulously presented by the … students. The day ended off with a lovely group photo. As each child was leaving, he/she got an autographed photo of one of the Paralympic athletes who were present, as well as a packed lunch.
Bridging Abilites, Inspire2Become and Stellenbosch Sport Science Department would like to thank the 3rd year sports science students, as well as our sponsors and service providers who made this event possible. We hope to be hosting many more such events in the future.