Speaking at the event, Nelson Mandela Bay executive mayor Danny Jordaan said the most important aspect of the initiative was the restoration of people’s dignity.
“It is the wheelchair, the person in the wheelchair and the family that helps restore the fullness of life,” he said.
Every Wednesday throughout July, able-bodied representatives from businesses across Port Elizabeth and East London were challenged to spend four hours in a wheelchair.
They were tasked with completing simple daily chores, such as using an automatic teller machine, buying groceries and visiting a coffee shop, to better understand the real-life challenges faced by people with disabilities.
SPAR retailers also spent time in the chairs to create awareness and ascertain if there were areas within their stores that could be improved on or changed to make the shopping experience more conducive to those with physical challenges.
Afterwards, the participants submitted reports to the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD) highlighting any accessibility issues encountered at the public buildings and businesses they visited.
SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager Wendy Westraadt said the retailer was proud to be involved as title sponsor of the community initiative, which is the brainchild of the local branch of the APD.
“It is an absolute honour and privilege to be here today,” said Westraadt.
“It is the third year that we have been involved and it is a partnership that we absolutely love.”
She said the initiative had placed 368 people in wheelchairs since its inception four years ago.
According to APD executive director Brian Bezuidenhout, this year’s campaign had raised over R475 000 in funding for the APD workshop, which provides sustainable employment for people with disabilities.