Disability Summit to knock your socks off

Students with disabilities listen as Michael Stevens from Jumping Kids tells them more about the organisation.

The annual Hope-Mandeville Disability Career Expo partnered with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to host the 2018 SABC Disability Summit, with various representatives from the disability sector in attendance including the SAB Foundation. MARISKA MORRIS reports.

Entrepreneurs with disabilities, organisations for people with disabilities and students with disabilities gathered at the SABC head offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, on April 18 for the SABC Disability Summit. The event gave students the chance to learn more about the career and learnership opportunities available to them, while entrepreneurs with disabilities were able to network.

What is now an annual event began when the Hope School for children with disabilities in Westcliff teamed up with the Mandeville Disability Swimming club. Proceeds from the event now go to the club, which trains swimmers with disabilities up to Paralympian level.

Lubabalo Mbeki from Access smiles proudly at his individual stand sponsored by the SAB Foundation.

The rebranded one-day 2018 Disability Summit was attended by organisations such as eDEAF, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) and the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), which demonstrated its Driving Ambitions programme. The driver trainer from the programme, Des Harmse, noted that students, delegates and exhibitors enquired about the programme for friends with mobility impairments.

The SAB Foundation gave its Disability Empowerment Award winners the opportunity to attend the summit free of charge. Co-winner of the 2017 awards, GreenABLE, a non-profit company that trains people with disabilities to dismantle empty printer cartridges into their recyclable components, attended.

The organisation reported that, with the assistance of the SAB Foundation, it was able to get a new plant, where it can train more people with disabilities. Sarah Ramkumar from GreenABLE said: “The more people with disabilities we employ, the more cartridges we can dismantle, which boosts our finances.”

Sarah Ramkumar holds up a pamphlet from the organisation at the GreenABLE stand sponsored by the SAB Foundation.

“We can’t believe we are at the SABC Disability Summit. There are so many opportunities we didn’t know we had access to. We would like to thank the SAB Foundation, which has done a great job in mentoring and supporting us,” she added.

Co-runner up Smergos was also present. Nick Smit, co-founder of Smergos, said: “The SAB Foundation has made it possible for us to be present at this summit. It is a very important event and the exposure has been good.”

With the help of the Foundation, Smergos plans to offer 26 products by the end of 2018, which will include a wheelchair rain poncho, wheelchair cup holders and a larger selection of bags.

“With the help of the Foundation, we are able to focus on both marketing and product development, which has made it possible for us to grow faster,” Nick explained.

The 2016 Disability Empowerment Awards winner, Access, a disability and inclusion solutions company, also benefited greatly from the support of the Foundation. CEO Lubabalo Mbeki commented: “The Foundation has offered basic support such as business mentors and online software to do the accounting of the business. SAB, in a nutshell, has helped the business to be stable.”

Nick Smit from Smergos.

The Deaf Empowerment Firm (DEF), another recipient of the SAB Foundation’s awards, also expressed its gratitude to the Foundation. MD Sikelelwa Alex Msitshana said: “With the help of SAB Foundation, we were able to bring in an interpreter. We are very thankful and hope to finish the programme and continue the relationship with SAB.”

Entries for the 2018 SAB Foundation Disability Empowerment Awards are now closed, but you can learn more about the awards by visiting the SAB Foundation website at www.sabfoundation.co.za/disability-empowerment.

Be sure not to miss out on the next SABC Disability Summit!

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