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Friday, 30 April 2010

Spotlight falls on sport for students with disabilities

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Higher education institutions must provide students with disabilities the opportunity to participate in competitive sports, said Wentzel Barnard, Manager of the Stellenbosch University Disabled sports team.

Barnard delivered a presentation at CPUT that detailed how universities can start up sports teams for students with disabilities as part of a Disability Unit awareness campaign.

The campaign, spearheaded by the Head of the Disability Unit, Dr Nina du Toit, is aimed at raising awareness amongst students and staff on disability at CPUT. The campaign is running at all campuses throughout this year.

Addressing staff members and students who attended the presentation, held at the Bellville Campus in April, Barnard said: “Sports is part of your wellbeing. It’s important for people with disabilities to take part in sport.”

Barnard, who became disabled 25 years ago during a rugby match, said sporting activities for the disabled must not be taken lightly.

Currently there are 16 sporting codes in South Africa for people with disabilities. These sporting codes include team activities, such as soccer, hockey and adaptive rowing to individual sport activities such as blind judo.

Barnard, who has been managing the Stellenbosch University Disabled sports team for several years now, said it is difficult to start up a team as funding is always an issue. However, he said it is necessary for institutions to provide students with this opportunity.

He suggested that when starting up a team, institutions must rope in the help of someone who has knowledge of sport for the disabled and who has previously been involved in such activities’. He also suggested that athletics would be an ideal sport to start off with.

Barnard said that they started their team with 35 students and now accommodates 75 students.

“Slowly but surely we are spreading the word about disabled sport,” he said.

By Candes Keating and Cilino Swartz Photograph: (Front) Disability Unit staff member, Lorraine Manekwana, Stellenbosch University Disabled sports team manager Wentzel Barnard, (back) Head of the Disability Unit Dr Nina Du Toit, and Dean of Students Cora Njoli Motale.

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za