The Importance of Specialised Wheelchairs for Children – NCPPDSA

The Impact of Casual Day in your Beneficiary Community.

Your R10 in action! Featured beneficiary: NCPPDSA

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The National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA) is a leader in the struggle for human rights for persons with disabilities in South Africa. Says National Director Therina Wentzel: “Our work to improve the rights and quality of life of persons with disabilities is a 365 day per year task, but we like to celebrate our achievements on a day like Human Rights Day.

“South Africa has made great strides in developing and passing legislation for persons with disabilities, but it takes a long time for what is committed to paper, to filter down to people on the ground. We have programmes and projects all over the country, covering urban and rural communities, with particular emphasis on the poorest of the poor – and children”

The NCPPDSA is the national umbrella, coordinating and development body for nine provincial associations with over 90 branches. These nine autonomous bodies, which make up the NCPPDSA, are known as “associations for persons with disabilities” and render services at grass roots levels.

Each of these organisations receive some of its funding from the Casual Day project, which raised R28m last year. It is owned and managed by the NCPPDSA. “With the world economy in turmoil, and a decline in funding for public benefit organisations from corporations and government, Casual Day is going from strength to strength. We would like to thank South Africans for their donations and would like to tell them how we use the money. The money we raise through this project affects the lives of thousands of vulnerable South Africans,” says Wentzel.

The proceeds of Casual Day are used to fund a range of projects and programmes for persons with disabilities. One of the programmes funded by the NCPPDSA is the Children’s Programme, which is wrapping up a major research project to identify the status quo of children with disabilities. Early results show that the majority of children with disabilities are outside the school system.

“We have many programmes, one of which focuses on the provision of specialised wheelchairs to children,” continues Wentzel. “There is a huge need for wheelchairs for children with multi-disabilities, meaning children with more than one disability as would be the case in a child with cerebral palsy.”

As part of Casual Day’s “Your R10 in Action campaign for 2015, we would are eager to tell people about the social impact of the Casual Day funds. Human Rights Day is a time for us to reflect on our contribution in this field,” says Casual Day project leader, Celeste Vinassa.

Danie Botha-Marais, Social Development Coordinator for NCPPDSA explains: “One of our projects makes it possible for children to get custom-designed assistive devices, like specialised buggies and walking aids. For many people, an appropriate, well-designed and well-fitted wheelchair can be the first step towards inclusion and participation in society.”

“When the need is not met, people with disabilities are isolated and are excluded from the same opportunities as others within their own communities. Providing wheelchairs that are fit for the purpose not only enhances mobility, but begins a process of opening up a world of education, work and social life,” he says.

Wheelchairs and seating are vital to the lives of many people with severe disabilities. But here lies the challenge. For many children with disabilities a wheelchair will not be sufficient to address their individual needs.

Botha-Marais contines: “We have to think beyond the ‘one-size-fits-all-wheelchair’ concept. The prescription of appropriate seating equipment for children and young people with physical disabilities is important, in order to provide an optimal seated position from which they may engage in functional activities.

“In many instances this will be in the form of a specialised buggy. Very often these are viewed as a ‘luxury’ because of the relative higher cost, because they are bespoke – especially where a household’s only income is a government grant or pension.”

Health and quality of life

In addition to providing mobility, an appropriate buggy or wheelchair is of benefit to the physical health and quality of life of the user. Botha-Marais says: “Combined with adequate user training of care attendants and family members, this can serve to reduce common problems such as pressure sores, the progression of deformities or contractures and other secondary conditions. Other benefits of the proper postural support of a wheelchair include improved respiration and digestion, increased head, trunk and upper extremity control and overall stability.”

Correct seating enhances the user’s level of mobility and functional ability, and greatly reduces the strain on carers. It can also help alleviate fatigue and prevent social isolation and lower the risk of depression.

“We have seen the joy and independence that comes with a specialised wheelchair and we will continue to facilitate these using the funds generated by Casual Day,” she concludes. “The opportunities for access to opportunities for education, employment and participation within the family and the community are vastly improved.”

You can contact the organisers of the project on 011 609 7006 or visit our website at www.casualday.co.za

The funds are raised as a result of a R10 donation for a Casual Day sticker.

Keep abreast of activities at Casual Day on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CasualDaySA

Twitter: @CasualDay_SA

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About the Author

Andrea Vinassa

Andrea Vinassa

For more information, photographs and publicity material call Andrea Vinassa / Media co-ordinator for Casual Day Cell: 079 089 9835 Landline Cape Town: 021 790 6698 \ Landline Edenvale: 011 609 7006 Email address: andrea.flashpoint@gmail.com

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