Sports day for the disabled offers hope, encouragement and opportunity

Local hospital strives to empower adults and children living with disabilities

Monday, October 31 2016

The annual Netcare Rehabilitation Sports Day is one of the most inspiring events on the Johannesburg calendar. This year’s event will take place on 4 November and is expected to attract more than 600 participants and supporters from all over Gauteng.

Many of the participants are individuals who have experienced what can only be described as life-changing, traumatic accidents or medical incidents and have had to spend weeks or even months undergoing rehabilitation or other forms of therapy.  

“The main purpose of the day is to showcase that many people with a disability can live meaningful and active lives and to celebrate their skills and talents,” says Marietha van Vuuren, general manager at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital. “This moving, fun filled event debuted 16 years ago and its scope and the support it enjoys have been increasing ever since,” she explains.
“The theme of this year’s sports day is Sore today – stronger tomorrow. We want to convey the message that for many rehabilitation patients, pain is only temporary and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel,” says Van Vuuren. “We witness all the time how, with the appropriate treatment and support, patients overcome their pain and come out stronger on the other side,” she adds.

During the event, participants will take part in fun and challenging sporting events and games such as wheelchair races, basketball, shot put, tug of war and bingo. Participants can compete in teams as well as individually. “We try our utmost to make sure that all participants feel included and have as much fun as possible to make the day memorable. Category winners will receive a trophy as well as exciting prizes,” explains Van Vuuren.

Adding to this year’s festivities will be a visit from the City of Johannesburg MMC for Community Development, Councillor Nonhlanhla Sifumba. Clr Sifumba will be giving a motivational keynote address to participants and the guests. “It is a great honour for us to host Clr Sifumba and we are looking forward to it,” comments Van Vuuren.
Also present at the event will be the South African Paralympic rowing team who recently competed in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the coaches. “They will have a stall set up where they will provide information on Paralympic rowing and how to get involved in this fast growing sport.

“Not only will the visit from the Paralympic rowing team serve as wonderful inspiration in terms of what people with a disability can achieve, but it will also show patients suffering from a disability that there is always hope,” says Van Vuuren.

“For the 7.5% of South Africans who are disabled and their families and friends, events like Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital’s sports day are of the utmost importance. It is so important to remember that families and friends of people living with a disability also need support, motivation and inspiration as they too have often experienced considerable trauma,” she adds.

Van Vuuren concludes with a number of helpful tips for families and caregivers of people living with a disability on how to better cope in 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 for feeling. If you accept your feelings and let them grow and fade naturally, you will be able to attain 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]