Throughout 2018, SPAR Eastern Cape ran its Wheelchair Wednesday campaign to create awareness around the challenges wheelchair users face. After seven year of success in Port Elizabeth, the campaign was extended to Jeffreys Bay and Uitenhage, with a handover in Jeffreys Bay in October 2018.
Moreover, a school was involved for the first time when Collegiate schoolgirls joined the project. It is hoped that the campaign will involve more young community members in 2019.
Run annually in Nelson Mandela Bay by the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD), the project takes place every Wednesday in the month of August when community and business leaders are invited to spend four hours in a wheelchair.
Along with creating awareness, the campaign also raises funds to purchase wheelchairs and support APD’s work centres for people with disabilities. The Jeffreys Bay community received 36 donated wheelchairs through the campaign in October.
Besides “sharing the love”, there were a number of reasons for incorporating Uitenhage and Jeffreys Bay into the project, according to SPAR Eastern Cape sponsorship and events manager Alan Stapleton.
“We want to spread the word and the experience of Wheelchair Wednesday, creating more awareness about the campaign. In addition, we felt we needed to extend our sponsorship of the project to link with stores outside Port Elizabeth,” he explains.
Stapleton is delighted with the response they received and says it was important to extend the campaign as far as they could. “Kouga Local Municipality mayor Horatio Hendricks and councillors were very positive about the initiative,” he says. The more people who are exposed to the difficulties experienced by wheelchair users, the better.
“It also sends a message about how facilities need to be improved to become wheelchair-friendly.”
APD executive director Brian Bezuidenhout says this was the first time they had been to Jeffreys Bay, which fitted in with their objectives. “With SPAR wanting to ‘spread the love’, it suited our plan to extend the programme to other areas,” he says. “The mayor and his committee are very involved and our aim is always to help as many people as we can.”
He added that the 36 wheelchairs went to community members whose situation had been assessed to ensure they would benefit the most from the donation. Earlier in 2018, a total of 150 wheelchairs were handed over at a function at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.