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WIZO donates child-friendly wheelchairs in KwaZulu-Natal

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OWN CORRESPONDENT

A wheelchair is completely out of reach for most. That’s why WIZO South Africa has joined forces with Israeli non-profit organisation Wheelchairs of Hope to bring the child-sized wheelchairs to the country.

Wheelchairs of Hope provides lightweight, reliable, and child friendly wheelchairs for children in developing countries. They are more than instruments of mobility, they are chariots of hope that help children gain access to education, friends, and peers.

“Our wheelchair is specifically designed for children, as we wish to empower education through mobility,” said Pablo Kaplan who together with Chava Rothstein founded Wheelchairs of Hope in Israel in 2009.

“Mobility from early childhood is a gateway to education. By giving access to education, we create a new generation with better skills, confidence, and hope.”

In 2013, Kaplan and Rothstein presented their idea at the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly, and were selected to serve on Unicef’s (the United Nations Children’s Fund’s) task force for assistive technologies.

This inspired WIZO South Africa, a voluntary organisation dedicated to the upliftment of the marginalised, to ensure that it could help as many of our vulnerable children as possible.

“WIZO Durban has taken this on as its passion project,” said Laurienne Baitz, co-chairperson. “Many wheelchairs have already been donated in KwaZulu-Natal to children at the Open Air School in Durban, the Give a Child a Family organisation in Margate, recipients in Harding and Ndwedwe, and now to 21 children living in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.”

WIZO partnered with The Valley Trust to identify children in the Valley of Thousand Hills most urgently in need of independent mobility. This collaboration resulted in a big day for the 21 differently abled children when they received their own wheelchairs in a ceremony at The Valley Trust.

“The hand-over of wheelchairs is a fun day-out,” said Baitz, “but more importantly, it gives dignity, control, and self-reliance to 21 children, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Who knows where that independence will lead?”

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