Ricochet News

Council Awareness campaign on disability

Feb 17, 2017
Council Awareness campaign on disability

Cllr Sean Snyman, a person living with a disability, highlighted the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) running up to the event, by creating awareness of the struggles of people with disabilities.

Snyman, Ward Councillor for Ward 19 challenged Council to experience disability on Wednesday firsthand. He said the main idea of the challenge was to create awareness about universal accessibility for people with disabilities and for able bodied people to somehow experience what people living with disabilities have to endure every day.

“People see what we go through but they do not really know what we go through. Other people talk down to disabled people and we want to be accepted with our disabilities.”

Cllr Jacqulique von Brandis, Ward Councillor for Ward 26, accepted the challenge and used a wheelchair for an hour. She said she needed assistance from Nozipho Stone, Peer Educator in the Gender and Disability subsection, to maneuver the wheelchair crossing the road.

She experienced some challenges in the Main Building of the Municipality. Cllr Snyman indicated that the experiences will be conveyed to the administration for action.

Cllr Charlotte Clarke pretended to be mute and had to ask a pharmacy assistant at a local pharmacy for medication for a runny stomach. She applauded the assistant, known to her only as Brendon, and says he passed the test. “I could relate to how people with disabilities must feel,” Clarke said.

Snyman, who was fully abled bodied up until nine years ago, when he was involved in a car accident lost the use of his right arm. He used to work in the motor industry, has a Business diploma and had an executive position before the accident.

He had to learn to get by with the use of one arm, how to tie his shoe laces differently and much more. He is currently the Chairperson of the Southern Cape Super Abled Society.

Ms Ansie Swart, Coordinator of the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge thanked Cllr Snyman for this great initiative and said charity begins at home. She says it is about changing mindsets and he must not stop here, but even get business owners involved.

“If he can get business owners to approach their own shops in disguise and see how their staff treats a disabled person, we can make huge strides in this town towards tolerance and acceptance of people with disabilities.”

Mr Harold Basson, Acting Municipal Manager, says George Municipality supports the initiative and will definitely make work of the challenges experienced in the building. 

“One of our strategic goals is to develop and grow George. By implication we want to develop George into a City which is friendlier towards persons with disabilities. The GO GEORGE bus service is an important aspect of this development with the entire fleet of buses being universally accessible. This is a first in South Africa.

Image: From left are Cynthia Boltman, Coordinator of Gender and Disability at George Municipality, Cllr Sean Snyman, Cllr Jacqulique von Brandis (in the wheelchair), Cllr Charlotte Clarke and Nozipho Stone, Peer Educator at Community Development.