Roadtrip to raise awareness on issues affecting disabled people

Palesa Manaleng
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A group of 12 people will embark on a journey from Pretoria to Cape Town to raise awareness on issues affecting the disabled.

The OCAL Journey for Change will see 11 runners and a hand cyclist travel 2 200 km in 10 days.

Hand cyclist Palesa Manaleng says disabled people remain marginalised in South Africa.

She says that the journey will serve to educate South Africans about the disabled.

“The whole journey will be about us teaching people about differently-abled people, different disabilities; showing them what they are capable of. This year, I will be the only hand cyclist, meaning I will be the only wheelchair user. Everyone else will be running. We have got one gentleman who is deaf. We have got one who will be running with crutches. There are 12 of us, because it is 24 hours; six will be running during the day, and six will be running during the evening. So it is constant. There is always someone on the road for those 24 hours.”

Manaleng was not born disabled. She was involved in an accident in 2014 which left her paralysed from the waist down. Being a paraplegic in South Africa and having to use a wheelchair comes with some challenges.

“Things like a pavement, I cannot wheel on a pavement because it is either too high or does not have a ramp or there is a hole in the middle of it and you have to ask a stranger for help, access to buildings, access to toilets.”

According Manaleng, more needs to be done to ensure that disabled people are accommodated.

One of the institutions that works to address challenges facing disabled people is OCAL.

“OCAL is a Non-Governmental Organisations that focuses on differently-abled people. It creates opportunities for the disabled through education and helping them to get access to everything that everyone has, such as being able to go to the beach, being able to go to work.”

Manaleng adds that the journey also aims to inspire those who are disabled to live their best lives.

“To show parents of children with disabilities that their children can do anything that they put their mind to.”

The group will leave for the expedition on 10 May and arrive in Cape Town on 20 May.