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School wins national award with disability project

WITH their caring hearts a group of learners from Stephen Nkomo Public School in KwaNobuhle recently scooped up the Youth Citizens Actions Programme (YCAP) National Championships in the primary school category with their disability project.

Y-CAP began in 2009 initially as a youth dialogue and is run in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education.

The initiative aims at empowering and motivating young people from public primary and secondary schools to solve or lessen the social, environmental, educational or economic problems within their schools or communities.

This year eight grade seven learners, together with their mentor Siyabonga Nyatela who is also a teacher at the school, were given the task of identifying a problem at their school or in their community and finding a solution for it.

Their project focused on disability. The learners assisted grade three learner Siphosethu ‘Sisi’ Ncandana whose legs were amputated below the knee at the age of two.

Aphelo Majenge who was involved in the project, said they noticed that Sisi could not play with her friends or participate in any sport.

The UD Express last year reported that Sisi was born with a condition that caused the upper part of her legs to develop normally, but the lower part of her legs and her feet were malformed. Alton Senekal of KwaNobuhle Fire Department made arrangements for Sisi to receive prosthetic legs.

As part of the Y-CAP project, the learners were required to do research in order to find a solution to their problem and they then met with Sisi’s grandmother, Pinky Ncandana.

They discovered that the prosthetic legs did not fit, and she could not walk on them because she did not get regular physiotherapy to help her learn how to walk on them.

The learners then arranged for a physiotherapist to help Sisi learn how to walk on prosthetic legs and how to put them on.

“We took videos of the physiotherapist when she put on Sisi’s prosthetic legs. We used the video as a guide for us when we helped her to put on the legs,” Majenge said.

Nyatela, who has been overseeing the school’s Y-CAP projects since they started participating in 2016, was able to contact Brian Paddey, a member of the Amputee Support Group (ASG) in Port Elizabeth who then with the help of a medical orthotist and prosthetist fixed the sockets and inner lining of Sisi’s prosthetic legs.

Nyatela said Sisi is now able to walk on the prosthetic legs without experiencing any pain and she can put them on by herself.

“I knew that there was no other Y-CAP project that had such a great impact on an individual’s life like ours had on Sisi’s. When I saw Sisi walking, it was even better than winning the nationals.

“We believed that even if we did not win, we knew that we did something big for Sisi,” Nyatela said.

Lahluma Mni, who was also involved in the project, said she felt very happy for Sisi because she wanted her to be happy and to walk on her own without any hassles.

Majenge said participating in the Y-CAP initiative helped her learn a lot about disability and it improved her public speaking skills.

According to Nyatela the Y-CAP project has learnt the learners about values, responsibility, respect, being thoughtful and independent.

“I want the learners to know that they do not have to wait for other people to do things in their community. They should take action and solve the issues around them,” Nyatela said.

She said they plan to sustain the project next year and get more people to help sponsor Sisi.

“Sisi is passionate about sports and we would like to help her use her prosthetic legs to play netball,” Nyatela said.

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