Windhoek Central Hospital rolls out wheelchair awareness event

Aldo Horn
Last Friday, the occupational therapy department of the Windhoek Central Hospital hosted a wheelchair awareness campaign at the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund headquarters. The event was attended by learners from St. Paul’s College, St. George’s Diocesan School, Amazing Kids Academy and Rosewood Academy.

The main goal of the event was to raise awareness among young people about the difficulties faced by wheelchair users in their daily lives.

“We want to raise awareness and destigmatise disability in a fun and interactive way,” said Patricia Pretorius, an occupational therapist at Windhoek Central Hospital and organiser of the event.

A short obstacle course, featuring tight turns around cones, a basketball hoop and a steep hill, had to be completed by the learners while they were in wheelchairs. This helped them see that it is not easy to use a wheelchair – especially when places aren’t wheelchair accessible. Struggling to roll up a steep incline without help raised the importance of wheelchair accessibility.

Participants said they learned a lot from the event and had fun.

A common refrain heard from almost everyone was: “Be patient – it’s really not as easy as it looks.”

The event doubled as a fundraiser for an adaptive garden at the Windhoek Central Hospital. With the help of sponsors, the aim is to raise enough money to build the garden. The garden will be used in occupational treatment for patients who are currently admitted to the hospital as well as outpatients.

The awareness event was preceded by an event held on International Wheelchair Day on 1 March. It was attended by 16 wheelchair users, with the aim of strengthening the community and introducing old wheelchair users to new wheelchair users. There was a short talk on the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle, and to cap the event off, participants competed in teams in a relay tournament.