Only disability in life- a bad attitude

The Tswellang therapy team focuses on the children’s abilities rather than their disabilities. Photo: Supplied

Displaying the importance of treating each person with respect, two special schools in Bloemfontein, namely Martie du Plessis School and Tswellang Special School, are celebrating Disability Awareness Month with positivity by showcasing each child’s uniqueness and beauty beyond their disability.

“We like to say that the only disability in life is a bad attitude, and we try to instill this into our learners,” says Dr Jacques Redelinghuys, Deputy Principal of Martie du Plessis.

Sindi Hugo from Martie du Plessis. PHOTO: Supplied

“We cater for learners who are physically disabled and learners with cerebral palsy (from 5 years old). We also cater for learners with severe learning barriers, for example scholastic skills, dysphasia, attention deficit disorder, and epilepsy, as well as learners with developmental barriers to learning which may include dyscalculia and dyslexia,” says Dr Redelinghuys.

The school focuses on kindness, integrity, respect and responsibility. “Our school has had a 100% matric pass rate for the past three years, with a 47% Bachelor’s Pass rate last year. Please do not discriminate against our learners because they had to overcome various barriers to achieve success; much more than the child in mainstream education,” says Dr Redelinghuys.

School leaders, Thabang Matona and Annemarie Gelderblom. PHOTO: Supplied


According to the Principal of the Tswellang Special School, Verna Vorster, the school is for learners with a vast variety of physical disabilities, and they currently have 278 learners enrolled at the school. “Despite many challenges, such as the need for assistive devices, wheelchairs, appropriate orthotics, and more, our therapy team remains motivated and diligent in rendering quality services to our very special learners,” says Vorster.

Two learners at the Tswellang Special School enjoying therapy
through painting and other fun activities. PHOTO: Supplied

“At Tswellang we have two physiotherapists, one speech therapist, nine occupational therapists and one social worker. We also have a professional nurse and a nursing assistant. Our therapy team work together to ensure the holistic treatment of all of our learners. Therapy is a safe and happy place at Tswellang,” says Vorster.

The Tswellang therapy team keeps up to date with new therapy techniques and training opportunities to ensure quality services are rendered to the learners at the school.

“One of our occupational therapists, Ms Steyn, recently completed the paediatric neuro-developmental therapy course, and Ms Ferreira (physiotherapist) completed the Wheelchair Service Delivery (professional) intermediate workshop based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) wheelchair service guidelines,” says Vorster.

The Tswellang therapy team focuses on the abilities of learners, rather than their disabilities.

The author Yvonne Pierre said: “When you focus on someone’s disability you’ll overlook their abilities, beauty, and uniqueness.”

Bonolo Moloi