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Disabled children get park Print E-mail
05 December 2011


An innovative park, the Rose Street Stimulation Park, has opened, with play equipment and pathways specifically designed for disabled children.

A CHANCE encounter between two neighbours at a place of worship has resulted in the establishment of a historic community initiative that will give children with special needs an opportunity to experience the simple joy of playing in a park.

SwingsPlay equipment caters for children with special needsThe Rose Street Stimulation Park was officially opened on 3 December, United Nation’s International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities, at Rose Park, one of City Parks’ flagship sites in Lenasia.

Fazel Suleman initiated the idea of a stimulation park and with the help of Joburg City Parks and Channel Islam International (Cii Broadcasting), wheelchair-bound kids got their very own, first-of-its-kind in Joburg, public park.

At the opening, Suleman was elated as he watched his daughter, Saajida, who is in a wheelchair, play on equipment she once only wished she could enjoy. He said that the equipment that had been installed was important to children like his daughter because it allowed them to move on their own. For example, Saajida could grab the bars, which one day would help her to walk.

Officially opening the park, Chris Vondo, the member of the City’s mayoral committee for community development, said: “I am confident that this new R700 000 stimulation park, which boasts wheelchair friendly pathways, swings, roundabouts, jungle gyms and landscaped lawns, will be the venue of annual celebrations to highlight the successes and the obstacles in the life of persons affected by disability in the city of Joburg.”

Other dignitaries at the park included the council Chief Whip, Prema Naidoo; the Gauteng MEC for roads and transport, Ismail Vadi; and representatives from City Parks and Cii, such as Ebrahim Gangat and Azhar Vadi.

Rose Street Stimulation ParkAn aerial view of Rose Street Stimulation Park “As leaders in our community and in line with the Constitution of South Africa, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that children with special needs have access to basic recreation, including a park with tailored facilities. The responsibility to mainstream disability issues is critical to achieving our aims of a free and fair society that is accessible to all,” Vondo added.

“This initiative … gives voice to a group of citizens that are largely ostracised due to their added needs. They are further exposed to higher mortality rates, are generally unemployed and are generally excluded from socialising due to short-sightedness on the part of [town] designers and planners.”

Projects such as these were just small steps in making sure that the City catered to the needs of persons with physical challenges, he said. History had taught us that people such as human rights activist Albie Sachs, as well as international sports stars Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit, were among many who had gone on to conquer the world and make their mark.

Opening the innovative park was one of the festivities marking Joburg’s 125 years. “We want to see Joburg become a liveable city … that takes care of its children, those with special needs, the elderly and the infirm,” said Vondo.

He concluded by quoting the words of the ANC veteran, Oliver Tambo: “A country that does not nurture its young does not deserve its future.”

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Last Updated on 12 December 2011