The global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. People with disabilities—one billion people— are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.
Thanks to brands like Brand SA, Sports for Social Change Network and Special Olympics SA this year will see a change in those inequalities by marking the day with inclusivity and sports.
This year Brand SA, Sports for Social Change Network and Special Olympics South Africa are partnering to commemorate the day in South Africa.
The theme this year is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.
On the day Special Olympics South Africa Ambassadors and other celebrity participants will join with Special Olympics athletes in Unified sporting events.
These include Mark Fish, Gareth “Soldierboy” McLennan, Kim Jayde, Lynn Forbes, Letshego Zulu, Sibusiso Shongwe, Melanie ‘Hypress’ Ramjee, Quinn Brown, Paul Kamanga, Nina Hastie, Rouge and Kamo Moth to name a few.
The participants will be joined by Dr Mathews Phosa, Chairperson of Special Olympics South Africa, Mr Allan Williams, Network Director of Sports for Social Change Network, Ms Pumeza Ceza, Strategic Relationship Manager – Civil Society from Brand SA and Zukiswa Nzo, Diversity and Inclusion Practitioner, Department of Social Development.
In keeping with the theme the day will feature three Unified Sports events hosted by Special Olympics South Africa. Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences.
Unified Sports is unique to Special Olympics and joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
Sport is a powerful tool that can be used to spread an inclusive and socially cohesive message to ensure that people with disabilities are treated equally as part of society. It is a mechanism that facilitates a change in attitudes and brings attention to the strength of the human spirit as demonstrated by people with disabilities.
As we commemorate International Day of Persons with Disabilities through these Unified Sports events, Brand South Africa calls on all citizens of the country to play their part: To reflect and think about how we can reshape our spaces, where we live, we work and we play to ensure that people with disabilities are able to have access to the same opportunities.
The SSCN through its members and the vector of Sport is helping to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with disability transforming community attitudes about persons with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person. Through member’s programmes, persons without disabilities interact with persons with disabilities in a positive context forcing them to reshape assumptions about what persons with disabilities can and cannot do.
Main Image: Disability Info