Kouga marks Disability Rights Awareness Month

KOUGA Municipality will do its best to ensure that there is better access to municipal buildings and facilities for people with disabilities.

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This was said by Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen at an event to mark Disability Rights Awareness Month at the Newton Hall in Jeffreys Bay last week.

The annual campaign runs from November 3 to December 3, with the last day also recognised as International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

This year’s theme is: “Persons with disabilities – Equal participants in shaping a sustainable future.”

The Mayor singled out, as examples, her office and the municipality’s council chambers as inaccessible to people with disabilities and the elderly.

“The municipality has to do more to provide access to everyone,” she said.

Van Lingen lauded the efforts of organisations that worked to highlight the plight of people with disabilities.

“Today we reach out to the diversity within the disability groups. You are doing what all of us should be doing and that is taking care of others,” she said.

In her message of support the Eastern Cape chairperson of Retina South Africa, Gail Cillie, said there was still a great need to educate people about visual disability.

The Port Elizabeth-based organisation established a support group for visually impaired patients in Kouga a year ago, with the aim of helping patients live their lives to the full.

Jakkie Pieters of the Association of People with Disabilities expressed pleasure at hearing the commitments from the Mayor on caring for people with disabilities.

He said the most common reaction by able-bodied people was to look the other way and avoid interaction with disabled persons.

“According to the IDP, there are 3074 people living with disabilities in Kouga and that means we still have a huge task ahead of us,” said Pieters.

He concluded by pointing out that there are skills among disabled people that may be exploited for the benefit of any institution.

“Given an opportunity, we can bowl you over. Look at our ability and not our disability.”

The municipality also donated 20 transporter wheelchairs to ten organisations that work with people with disabilities, the el-derly and the sickly. Each received two transporters.

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