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Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius. Photo by Elvar Pálsson

Admittedly not a vacation at the Thonga beach lodge, disabled people can still enjoy rich and fulfilling lives. Indeed, the South African government is serious in wanting to help people with disabilities enjoy life. By establishing DISSA (Disability Sports South Africa), disabled South Africans get a shot at being able to achieve greatness in their own way.

DISSA, which falls under the Ministry of Sports and Recreation, is located in Johannesburg. Its main objective is “to provide access to all persons with a disability in South Africa to sports and recreation, enabling them to achieve their potential.”

DISSA has found certain private institutions like the Nedbank to join them in their mission. Nedbank is one of the most trusted banking groups in South Africa. They are also known for their strong devotion to community sponsorships, one of which is The Paralympics.

The South African Paralympic Team

This Paralympic team from South Africa has had the strong backing and support of Nedbank since 1992. In the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, the SA team won 21 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 6 bronze medals. They earned the rank of 6th place overall from a total number of 147 competing teams from countries all over the world. They will be travelling again in 2012 to London where the Paralympic Games are scheduled to be held.

The SASAPD

The South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled, or SASAPD, has also joined up with Nedbank to provide another venue for people with disabilities to compete in sports games. The Nedbank National Championships is a multiple sports event that takes place every year. In 2011 it was held in March and had events specifically for visually impaired and blind athletes. The results from the time it was started more than 19 years has encouraged more South Africans with disabilities to get involved in sports. There will be a grand culmination this year that will be the harbinger for the London games.

Some of the featured athletes who will be participating are Oscar Pistorius, Hilton Langenhoven, and Emily Gray.

The Nedbank South African Disabled Golf Open

In addition to be being an industry leader with regards to property investments tips and the likes, Nedbank is a company with a strong social conscience and therefore does a lot to contribute to the development of programmes to aid the disabled. Along with the Paralympic Team of South Africa and people with disabilities, the annual Nedbank South African Disabled Golf Open remains a thrilling time for all. Anyone with disabilities is welcome to join. There is even a golf clinic called First Swing Clinics to help beginners shake off their apprehensions. This year will be its 6th event, and the list of participants keeps growing.

Special Olympics

When the Special Olympics were first held in Illinois, USA, in 1968, the dream was already to bring it to all corners of the world. The Special Olympics committee in South Africa is monitored and supported by the government. Anyone over 8 years old can qualify to join the games. The next scheduled Special Olympics World Games is in 2015 and South Africa is competing with the US for the honour of hosting the games. If South Africa does get the nod to host the games, be sure to buy a camera and attend as many events as possible. Additionally, check out laptop deals so that you can upload your photos to a blog or Facebook everyday.

The sports included are Badminton, Beach Volleyball, Aquatics, Football, Volleyball, Golf, Tennis, Athletics, Basketball, Equestrian events, Judo, Power Lifting, Cycling, Bowling, Bocce, Handball, Softball, Sailing, Gymnastics, Kayaking, Roller Skating and Handball. There are a total of 22 sports for the Summer Olympics and another set of sports for the Winter Olympics. One of most exciting factors for the Special Olympics is that it is a full sponsored tournament and there is no charge for joining.

A quote from Nelson Mandela aptly described the approach of DISSA and other concerned agencies:

I urge everyone to look at individuals with… disabilities in a different light. If given a chance, these individuals can make a mark in whatever discipline they are guided through. If guided well, they will excel in whatever they attempt to do. – Nelson Mandela