Free State Department of Social Development Hosts Disability Awareness Day

Africa: The Department organized a Disability Awareness Day as part of the launch of Public Service Month and the celebration of the Casual Day at the Provincial Office under the theme “Revitalize Batho Pele, Walk the Talk”.

This outreach was organized by the Service Delivery and Customer Service Improvement Unit and led by the Acting HOD Adv. TJ Pahlo. Program activities were led by an occupational therapist from Universitas Hospital.

The objective of this awareness session was to practice, know, recognize and accept the experiences of individuals in relation to their disability. Knowing, being aware and going beyond our comfort level is also the key to better understanding.

An employee with a disability shared her experiences working for the Department, both biases and successes. She asked for the inclusion of people with disabilities in scholarship programs so that they can continue their studies.

She also asked management to show compassion to subordinates with disabilities.

The occupational therapist explained to the audience what disability is and its role in supporting people with disabilities.

There were five different activities (Obstacle Challenges) designed to introduce officials to what it is like to have a disability. These activities included being blindfolded to experience blindness, using one arm to experience stroke, standing with one leg to experience amputee, using a wheelchair to to experience being paralyzed, etc.

While the activities were fun, management and officials were able to experience what people with disabilities go through on a daily basis and appreciate how activities that seem easy when done by people with disabilities are actually very difficult.

The Department prides itself not only on employing over 5% of people with disabilities, but also on creating an enabling environment to enable them to operate independently and effectively.

Joel C. Hicks