Exceptional young South Africans received gold medals from Jacob Zuma, at the 30th annual President’s Award for Youth Empowerment in Cape Town.

The award acknowledged 120 young people who have completed tasks in the areas of community service, sport, skills, an adventurous journey and a residential project.

Medals were presented by the president, alongside British royalty, Prince Edward and Princess Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex, at the Table Bay Hotel.

Chaeli Mycroft’s mettle was tested when she completed the physical recreation requirement. She was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Chaeli completed the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour. She is planning a hike up Kilimanjaro and also takes part in ballroom dancing competitions.

She started the Chaeli Campaign with her sister and friends to improve the lives of children with disabilities.

The duke’s son, Prince Edward, was present to congratulate South Africa’s winners.

“I hope it has inspired you to help many more young people in the future,” he said. “And when you leave this room, walk a few inches taller.” Source: Daily News

Breakthrough therapy for children to be taught by blind women

The SA Institute for the Scotson Technique, a registered non-profit organization, dedicated to providing disabled children with the chance to develop more normally. This organization plans to educate blind South African women from disadvantaged backgrounds to instruct parents on how to administer the Scotson technique, to children who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders, with the aim of decreasing their physical and neurological difficulties.

The Scotson Technique is the brain child of UK mother, Linda Scotson, whose son has cerebral palsy. Her determination to find a better future for her son, led her to extensive research, culminating in the completion of a PhD thesis at the University College London.

Linda demonstrated that the barrier to more normal development in cerebral palsy (CP) children was not only the condition of the child’s brain but the abnormal development of the child’s breathing (i.e. respiratory circulatory system) which is also affected as a consequence of the brain injury.

Linda’s research led her to develop a unique kind of massage which was shown to produce a stronger better coordinated breathing pattern in every CP child studied.

A statistical analysis also showed significant improvements in the children’s head control, posture, limb movement, chewing and swallowing, speech, digestion, general health, understanding, communication and behaviour. The treatment also enhances organs including the brain, the eyes, muscles and digestive organs.

Linda has also founded a charity in the United Kingdom, called “Advance” to teach parents how to apply the massage which is now called, the Scotson Technique (TST).

One South African mother, a passionate activist for the rights of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Adi de Hoop, (whose daughter Nimoe had steadily improved with TST ) realized that she and Linda could work together to make TST available and more accessible across South Africa to all children with disabilities, if they could train skilled instructors. The therapy consists of very gentle controlled breath- like pressures which led them to postulate that blind women, who had a very keen sense of touch, would make excellent instructors. The work of this group of women could be the starting point for the empowerment of the community, especially communities affected by dire poverty and lack of access to such important services.

The preparatory phase for this project is provided by a day care center called, the Alexandra Disability Movement, that caters for children with CP, where a remarkable blind women, Angie Mpjana, works as a coordinator.

Linda and Adi are proposing to begin training parents of children at the Alexandra Disability Movement and to liaise with Angie Mpjana to identify the first team of blind women ready to be trained as educators.

The launch of the 2% Employment Campaign

The Disability Workshop Development Enterprise (DWDE) launched the 2% Employment Campaign with an associated target of employing1200 people with disabilities, on 15 October 2013, at the Sinosteel Plaza in Sandton.

This 2% Employment Campaign is a partnership between the DWDE, The Jobs Fund, administered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability. A cornerstone of the campaign is the signing up of member companies to join in the uptake of the 1200 candidates who have completed the DWDE work-readiness program.

DWDE is a Disability Employment Support Service Provider. The chief executive officer, Undere Deglon said: “We understand business concerns about the risks of employing first-time job seekers. Based on years of experience and lessons from other countries, we have developed a model to source, develop and place unemployed persons with disabilities into entry-level positions for the first time in their lives. We can make this happen through member companies who join us in the battle against unemployment.”

She added that they can source and train candidates for any type of entry-level position. These include call center agents, cashiers, shop assistants, customer service agents, packers, cleaners, hotel and kitchen staff.

The DWDE aims to assist businesses to meet their employment equity target of 2% of your workforce comprising persons with disabilities.

Shuaib Chalklen, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, stated they are supporting the campaign because of the DWDE’s commitment to the employment of people with disabilities and because it supports the government of South Africa to ensure that the 2% target is met.

“The employment of people with disabilities is a key indicator of the successful integration of people with disabilities in society,” Chalklen added.

The DWDE will provide work readiness training to 1700 candidates and 1200 people can be employed immediately.

The campaign’s Gauteng launch hosted guest speakers, Advocate Bokankatla Joseph Malatji from the South African Human Rights Commission and Luvuyo Mali, project manager, at the The Jobs Fund.

Expo and Conference 2013

The Disability Trade and Lifestyle Exhibition and Conference took place from the 7th to the 9th of November at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg. The Expo showcased how people with disabilities can live independent and productive lives if they have access to the right resources. This event is the only public showcase on the African continent, where all people with a disability and their caregivers can find the manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and service providers, that offer everything necessary to empower and improve their quality of life.  The exhibition provides a “one stop shop” for people with any kind of disability – the mobility impaired, those with sensory disabilities (visual and hearing), cognitive and learning disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, medical disabilities, speech and language disabilities, as well as brain injuries.

Wii makes fitness fun

In recent years, a growing number of occupational therapists have integrated video game technologies, such as, the Nintendo Wii, into rehabilitation programs. ‘Wiihabilitation’, or the use of the Wii in rehabilitation, has been successful in increasing patients’ motivation and encouraging full body movement.

Wiihabilitation can be described as the medical application of interactive video gaming devices to augment physical, cognitive and behavioral therapies under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Although Wii hab is an entertaining alternative to other forms of therapy, please keep in mind that it should be used to augment therapy, and not replace it.

Raise your game

The Wii is also a great way to have fun and get fit, but until recently it has not been as much fun for wheelchair or power chair users. Luckily, Dave Roundtree, a paraplegic, designed the Floor-Board. This handy device is used over the Wii Fit Balance Board so that users can interact with certain games, like skiing, soccer, and island cycling.

According to the designer, the setup is simple:

  • Set up a Wii system with Wii Fit Plus or any game compatible for use with the balance board, Set the Floor-Board on top of your balance board,
  • Then roll or step onto the Floor-Board and begin to play.

The benefits of gaming

The physical skills that can be improved include dexterity, balance, hand function, fine and gross control of movement, general fitness, upper limb range of movement, reaction speed, cognition and lower limb movement.

However, the benefits are not only physical.  People with disabilities can connect with their friends online, and play against them in the comfort of their own homes. The gaming platform removes barriers associated with disabilities and everyone is equal. All that counts is your skill level. Gamers have also reported that it boosts self-confidence and eases depression.

The Wii has also been used in other medical specialties such as therapeutic exercise for stroke recovery, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, spinal cord injury and brain injuries.

Being blind is not a barrier

Dr. Zummy Isenberg recently shared the Rolling Inspiration stand with us at the ACSA Disability Show and showcased how someone who is completely  blind can also enjoy playing golf on the Wii.

Dr. Isenberg acts as Cecil Alexander’s “eyes” coach and caddy by providing him with the necessary information, regarding the terrain he’s playing at the current stage in the game – gradient, wind, distance and the amount of force needed to get the ball going.

“Cecil is really very good. He’s a pro in the game. He once scored a hole in one and he was so excited we couldn’t stop celebrating. The success that Cecil has achieved is way beyond my expectations,” said Isenberg.

These men make a formidable team and the fact that they enjoy every minute of the game is a bonus.