The power of wheels is often underappreciated. On a daily basis, people rely on wheels – two or four – for all kinds of mobility needs, but mostly for getting from point A to point B.  Imagine what it is like spending everyday reliant on a device, like a wheelchair, that is completely central to one’s existence and the space and place challenges that come with it.

This exercise of imagination is the motive behind the Association for Person’s with Physical Disabilities (APD) fundraising and awareness initiative, dubbed Wheelchair Wednesday.

“The APD wanted to keep the idea simple but effective,” said Brian Bezuidenhout, APD executive director. “So we thought, what better way to raise awareness, funds and turn the tables on traditional thinking about people with physical disabilities than to give able bodied people some insight and perspective into our everyday lives."

 “This was achieved by getting heads of companies, chief executives, and community leaders to pledge to spend four hours in a wheelchair, every Wednesday in May. This way, leaders from the public and private sector gain deeper insight into our obstacles and can provide opportunities at the same time.”

With over 100 000 people with disabilities living in Nelson Mandela Bay, this is a well-needed perspective, added Bezuidenhout.

The APD aims to get 100 local high-flyers to come on board. These business and public sector participants each donate R5000 to take part in Wheelchair Wednesdays, and these donations will ultimately translate into 50 wheelchairs which will go to needy beneficiaries.

 “One of the major factors that prohibit persons with disabilities from integrating and functioning normally within society is the issue of reasonable accommodation,” Bezuidenhout explained. “It is to this end that we have devised this awareness campaign. The SPAR Wheelchair Wednesday initiative will once again challenge the mindsets of the decision-makers within society and help to bring about an unprecedented paradigm shift in the way persons with disabilities are treated.”

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