Rolling a mile in a wheelchair user’s shoes

A day can make all the difference, especially when you spend it in another person’s shoes. People are often ignorant about the challenges that others face and, to make the point, Little Eden invited Adrian Gore, group chief executive of Discovery, to spend a day in a wheelchair to commemorate National Disability Month.

Little Eden is a non-profit organisation that cares for people with extreme disabilities, many of whom have been abandoned or abused, or come from severely disadvantaged backgrounds. The NGO requires around R11 600 per month for each resident to ensure they are well fed and clothed, and receive 24-hour nursing and medical care as well as specialised therapy. Gore accepted the challenge and spent a day in a wheelchair facing many of the challenges wheelchair users overcome on a daily basis. Afterwards, he wrote the following email to his colleagues and staff: You may have seen me in a wheelchair yesterday and I wanted to tell you what it was about. This month is National Disability Month and the incredible organisation Little Eden challenged me to spend a full day in a wheelchair. Little Eden is a home that provides life-long care to 300 children and adults with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. This challenge was meant to give me insight, and it did – the experience was profound!

I made sure that I spent the entire day in the wheelchair with no exception – conducting meetings, attending the Executive Committee, eating lunch, going to the restroom and more. It was incredibly hard in every way – I battled to get around, I was slow and fatigued, and I got home exhausted, mentally and emotionally. I cannot begin to imagine the complexity and difficulty of being in a wheelchair – or of any substantial disability whether physical or mental. While it was a drop in the ocean of what people actually experience, it did give me the insight that Little Eden intended. It was this very insight that left me feeling inspired and hopeful. I say this because the many people I know who live with disabilities are incredibly productive, high achievers and make a significant impact. I don’t know how they do it, but they do – it’s a testimony to their grit and resilience, and the power of the human spirit. It is clear to me: people can do anything they set their minds to, overcoming barriers in their way.

Thanks to Little Eden for this honour, and for all they do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *