Sports gala benefits children living with disability

MUTARE - It was smiles galore for Mutare’s children living with disability last Friday as award-winning non-governmental organisation – Sport 4 Socialisation (S4S) gave them the opportunity to compete with their peers at the Institutional Adapted Physical Activity track and field athletics competitions.

This year’s prestigious Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Century Innovators Award winner, S4S Coordinator Ropafadzo Tarugarira said her organisation mulled the competition after realising that hearing, mentally and physically impaired children were generally being side-lined from most sporting events.

“We hope this will be an annual event,” Tarugarira said.

Chengetai School for the Intellectually Challenged, Lowden Lodge Girls School run by the National Rehabilitation Centre and resource units for Chikanga Primary, Sakubva Primary and Zamba Primary participated in the competitions which had three categories – Physically Challenged, Hearing Impaired and Intellectually Challenged.

Lowden Lodge Girls School won under the physically challenged category with Sakubva Primary and Chengetai School wining in the Hearing impaired and intellectually challenged categories respectively.

Speaking during the price giving ceremony Manicaland Provincial Acting Education Officer Sport, Isaiah Mhembere urged the organisers to continue working with the children in preparation for next year’s Paralympics Games.

He also said the competitions were also important in the development of children living with disability as they would “feel that they are being accommodated and included in sporting activities just like any other children.”

Speaking on the side-lines of the event Wallace Mupfumwa of the Freedom to the Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (FDPZ) said these children were exercising their right to exercise.

“To us the promotion of sport among disabled people is part of our mission for social inclusion through sport,” Mupfumwa said.

Sport, Mupfumwa added, would promote physical fitness among disabled persons which “will enhance their mental and physical well-being as people.”

S4S have this year also been nominated for another international award the BndeStem Development Award.

The organisation has worked with close to 500 children and youths since its inception in 2008 when it also won that years’ Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Best Social Responsibility Programme, a 2010 Beyond Sport Awards Best New Project and was also shortlisted for the Best Practice Market in the 2012 Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Sport for Social Change Network for Southern Africa.

The children with disability centred organisation, Tarugarira explains, also works at dispelling stigma associated with disability by engaging their parents as well as the general community to foster inclusion.

“Without involving parents and community, the children will fall back into their old situation of isolation and exclusion,” Tarugarira said.

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