Words: Andrea Vinassa
Millions of South Africans celebrated Casual Day last week (Friday, 4 September). Participants wore their stickers and used their imagination to express the theme, Spring into Action. Cape Town was abuzz with blossoms and the cast of Merry Widow, on at Artscape, showed their support with a group photo with Casual Day mascot, Able.
Says project leader Vanessa du Plessis: “We would like to thank our sponsor, Edcon, and all South Africans for their generosity and willingness to reflect on the purpose of Casual Day: to raise funds and awareness for persons with disabilities.
“However, it is important for us to keep the magic of Casual Day alive throughout the year. Casual Day is the flagship project of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in SA (NCPPDSA). At the core of the organisation is creating awareness of the human rights of persons with disabilities – it is a 365 day per year task. With the world economy in turmoil, there is a decline in funding for public benefit organisations from corporations and government.
“We must apply our minds to enterprise development and job creation for persons with disabilities and promote their independence from the need for funding. We can only do this by ensuring education and economic upliftment for persons with disabilities. Casual Day is a fun concept, but its underlying raison d’etre is a very serious one.
The National Council for Persons with Disabilities in SA runs a range of projects and programmes, including the Children’s Programme, which has wrapped up a major research project to identify the status quo of children with disabilities. Results show that the majority of children with disabilities are outside the school system. Another programme focuses on the provision of specialised wheelchairs to children as there is a huge need for wheelchairs for children with multi-disabilities, meaning children with more than one disability as would be the case in a child with cerebral palsy. A major focus of NCPPDSA is also the accessibility of public buildings and transport.
“It is very important that we communicate the social impact of the funds. Each of the national beneficiaries and the 500 centres for persons with disabilities that raise funds through Casual Day have their own story to tell,” she says.
Casual Day supports many job creation initiatives all over the country and specifically the Ability Wear Job Creation Centre, which this year manufactured 15 000 Casual Day shirts and did all the silk screening on the shirts and caps. The centre, which is run by the Nelson Mandela Bay Association for Persons with Disabilities, provides income-generating opportunities for 100 persons with disabilities, as well as sewing and garment manufacturing skills.
Casual Day is owned by the National Council of Persons with Physical Disabilities and is run in partnership with its national beneficiaries, all members of the South African Disability Alliance. Leading retail group Edcon, is Casual Day’s principal financial sponsor.
The beneficiaries of Casual Day are:
National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in SA
South African National Council for the Blind
South African Federation for Mental Health
Deaf Federation of South Africa
Autism South Africa
Down Syndrome South Africa
National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy
South African National Deaf Association
National Institute for the Deaf
Alzheimer’s South Africa
South African Disability Alliance
QuadPara Association of South Africa.