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Thursday, May 23, 2013 | 00:00

Cape Town, 22 May 2013:  Together with the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Airports Company South Africa handed over five custom-made manual wheelchairs to Bel Porto School as well as two power wheelchairs with posture backs and a manual wheelchair to Paarl School in Cape Town today, following a successful budget vote delivered by Honourable Minister Lulu Xingwana.

Six-year old Jacqueline Blou of Paarl School took her first steady steps at nine months of age. Shortly thereafter, she became weak and started losing her functional ability. It was soon discovered that she had Hereditary Sensory Motor Neuropathy Type 3, a variant of Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease which is also known as ‘Dejerine-Sottas Disease’. She was diagnosed with the condition and rendered to a wheelchair before her second birthday with access to only a manual wheelchair that she used at home and at school. 

Despite her physical limitations, Jacqueline is a highly motivated and independent-spirited girl. Today, Airports Company South Africa made it possible for her to explore her independence by providing a much needed motorised wheelchair with a posture backrest to support her back and prevent scoliosis from developing.

“Jacqueline, like many others with physical limitation, is the reason Airports Company South Africa is involved in ensuring we play our role when it comes to the social development of children, especially those facing mobility challenges,” said Deon Cloete, GM of Cape Town International Airport. “We are committed to working with our stakeholders and other willing partners to equip young children with mobility aids to enable safe movement and access.”

Along with Jacqueline, Sadé Booysen from Paarl School will also be receiving a power chair with posture back rest. 

As part of the Airports Company South Africa’s social investment programme, collectively 86 wheelchairs were handed over within the Western Cape Province in the past four months. These include the Bethesda Hospice Child and Youth Care Centre in George in February, Cape Mental Health Special Education and Care centres, under which the following centres will benefit:  Imizamo Yethuhtu in Khayelitsha, the Erika Special Education and Care Centre in Mitchell’s Plain and Heideveld Special Care Centre.

“Another project we are particularly proud of involves the funding of a toolkit, spares and training to repair wheelchairs for, and by, the residents of Elim Home, which is a residential special care centre for children with mental and physical disabilities. This is Airports Company South Africa’s way of providing sustainable and beneficial empowering through training,” says Cloete.

For more information, please contact Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, Airports Company South Africa Spokesperson, by e-mail: unathi.batyashe-fillis@airports.co.za or tel: (011) 921- 6087 or cell: 079 882 7307.

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