Great South African athletes such as Natalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorius have shown that being disabled need not be an barrier to participating in sport.
Indeed both Natalie and Oscar have shown that that they are able to compete against some of the best able bodied athletes in the world and their determination to compete and overcome their disabilities have been an inspiration not only to the disabled but to all South Africans.
It is in such a spirit that disabled competitors participate in the annual ‘Rehab Sports Day’, which is hosted by the Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital in Johannesburg, every year.
Between 200 and 300 physically disabled people from rehabilitation facilities and support centres throughout Gauteng Province gather together to participate in the event.
This year’s event was particularly special as the tenth anniversary of this increasingly popular event is being celebrated.
The participants in the Rehab Sports Day are certainly not all Oscars or Natalies.
In fact according to Elliot Kula, General Manager of the Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital, while some leading paralympians and gold medallists attended this year, most participants were ordinary disabled South Africans who wished to challenge themselves and be the best they can be.
The event is designed to be fun, confidence building and therapeutic.
Mind is the greatest obstacle
Kula points out that: “The greatest obstacle for many disabled individuals, and indeed most people, is that which resides in the mind.
The Rehab Sports Day allows disabled individuals to see what they can achieve both mentally and physically and to focus on how they are enabled rather than disabled.”
He says disabled patients who participate in the day are able to share their experiences and provide support to one another.
Many people struggle to come to terms with their disabilities. The sports day allows them to see that they are not the only individuals to experience disability. They are able to see how others deal with their disabilities and make the most of those abilities they do have.
Typical of the participants is brave 32-year-old Bradley Botha. This was his first Rehab Sports Day. Late last year Bradley was involved in a motor vehicle accident that caused him serious head injuries.
“A truck drove into the back of my car,” notes Bradley. “I was in the intensive care unit for two months and couldn’t walk or talk.”
After a further two months of care at the Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital, which specialises in helping amputees and accident victims overcome their disabilities and reintegrate into society, Bradley regained his faculties and learned to speak eloquently once more.
Kula says that there is something for everybody at the Rehab Sports Day. Participants included patients from the Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital, both past and present, as well as those from other rehabilitation facilities in Gauteng and surrounds.
Range of events
They participated in a range of events such as wheelchair quad racing, wheelchair basketball, hocker, wheelchair volleyball and bingo.
The sports day was started in 2000 and includes participants who have suffered spinal cord and head injuries, strokes, amputations and polytrauma.
It is always well attended and supported and it is a fun-filled day the entire family can enjoy, according to Kula.
He says the event has grown substantially over the last ten years and many of the participants enjoy it to the extent that they return year after year.
“Besides being a great deal of fun, we hope that the event reminded disabled people that just like everyone else they are people with talents and abilities,” concludes Kula. “We want disabled people to become aware that we as a country need their contribution if we are to become a positive, vibrant, sustainable and growing nation.”
(Press release, Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital, October 2010)
Issued by : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of
Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney or Clementine
Telephone : (011) 469 3016
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