Sports day for the disabled gives back hope, excitement and motivation

Event aims to empower adults and children living with disabilities

Tuesday, October 17 2017

In the 17 years since its inception, Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital in Johannesburg’s annual sports day for people with disabilities has become an inspiration and a beacon of hope, which celebrates the possibilities and abilities that can be attained, even after suffering a disability as a result of severe injury or illness.

This year, the sports day will take place on Friday, 20 October 2017 and is expected to attract nearly 800 participants and supporters from Gauteng and surrounding areas. Many of the participants are individuals who have experienced what can only be described as life changing, traumatic injury or illness and either have spent weeks or even months undergoing physical rehabilitation and therapy or are still undergoing rehabilitation.

In addition to demonstrating that many people with disabilities can live meaningful and active lives, this year’s theme “Strive for progress, not perfection” has another message to convey. Joe Sandows, general manager of Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital explains.

“To patients who sustain injuries that lead to disability, the feeling of hopelessness and fear can be overwhelming and many times, the only thing a patient wants, is to go back to being their old selves. This usually involves the need to perfectly regain every ability they had before sustaining their injuries or illnesses,” says Sandows.

“Then, when this goal of perfection seems unreachable, patients tend to become extremely discouraged, often losing hope and forgetting all the progress they have made during rehabilitation.

“The message we want to convey is that recovery does not mean that you have managed to perfect old abilities again, it means that you have developed new ones that will enable you to live a full and meaningful life.

“That is why, this year, we are celebrating the excellent progress that our patients have made so far while applauding their strength and courage. We also want to pay tribute to patients’ families and friends, and the fundamental role their continuous love and support plays in the recovery of their loved ones,” Sandows adds.

The sports day will entail patients participating in several sporting and cultural events including wheelchair basketball, shot put, choir singing, volleyball and racing. And for the little ones, there will be fun games and face painting in the hospital foyer.

Sandile Mbele, regional director of Netcare’s South West region is an avid supporter of the annual sports day and will be attending the event again this year.

“The Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital sports day is one of the most inspiring events in our region’s calendar and provides immense hope and support to the 7,5% of South Africans who live with a disability, as well as their family and friends. “It is more than a day of fun and games, it educates the public and breaks the negative stereotypes that are attached to those living with disabilities,” says Mbele.

Sandows concludes with a number of helpful tips for families and caregivers of people living with a disability, on how to better cope with the challenging circumstances:

  • Do not try to do it all. Make sure you have your own support network to assist you when you need it. Taking care of a person who is living with a disability is often no easy task and there is no shame in asking for help.
  • Attend to your own needs as well. Some family members of people living with a disability tend to neglect their own needs. There is nothing wrong with having fun with friends, spoiling yourself and having hobbies. You are entitled to happiness.
  • Accept your feelings. When you experience trauma, you will be bombarded by an array of feelings including fear, anger, resentment and sorrow. Do not feel guilty when you experience these feelings. If you accept your feelings and let them grow and fade naturally, you will be able to regain emotional health much quicker.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:        [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]