FOR many children, sport is a way of life but for those with disabilities, it requires an extra effort.
Now such pupils at Cape Recife High School have been given a sporting chance.
Two new sporting codes, which will see children with mental and physical disabilities becoming more active, have been introduced at the school.
After para-archery and powerlifting were introduced at the school, principal Jacques Hugo said the emotional and physical benefits for the pupils were wonderful.
“It certainly helps build muscle groups as well as increases the pupils’ concentration,” he said
Chairman of Para- Archery South Africa, Shaun Anderson, who himself is disabled, said the Feathers Programme they started at the school would help build pupils, mentally and physically, and said there is tremendous talent at schools which could see pupils reaching world championships and even the Paralympics.
“We plan to develop and promote para- archery in South Africa in several ways, from grassroot levels to the Paralympic Games.
“We have seen unbelievable results in the children we have introduced to the Feathers Programme in Pretoria.
“We hope to develop the programme here in Port Elizabeth in all schools.”
Anderson said the children who are participating are amazing.
“I am blown away by their determination.”
Wheelchair-bound Grade 11 pupil Patience Mangaliso, 18, said she has just started archery and is very excited to continue with the programme.
Andre Ludick from Powerlifting South Africa said powerlifting has proven to be quite effective with pupils getting “in the zone” when taking part, and has encouraged logical thinking for children with learning disabilities.
There are three disciplines which the powerlifters take part in, including squats, bench presses and deadlift.
“We started in able-bodied schools with the programmes and also at the Northern Lights school.
“We hold four workshops throughout the year in different venues to get the children engaged and eager to take part.
Grade 12 pupil Wonga Jola said he has had great fun with powerlifting.
“I was very nervous taking part in the Eastern Province qualifying championships but am happy I started (powerlifting).”
Wonga lifted a combined 480kg during his three disciplines.
Cape Recife occupational therapist Elisabeth Barry said archery was originally used as a means of rehabilitation as well as recreation for people with physical disability, before it became a paralympic sport.
“Archery is open to a variety of people with physical disabilities and can be adapted according to the person’s disability.
“Many disabled people experience a loss of self-esteem and decreased confidence, often leading to depression, and are often alienated from others as they are unable to experience shared positive experiences. These sports are a means to achieve success which in turn builds self confidence.”
Barry added that the sports enhance a number of skills including muscle strength, accuracy in eye-hand co-ordination, physical and cardio respiratory endurance, balance and coordination.
“These sports tend to improve the learner’s concentration and enhance self-discipline which flows over into all other areas of life.”