Chief executives take up the wheelchair campaign in March

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Compassionate chief executives and directors of some of South Africa’s most prominent companies are joining forces with Little Eden Society to shine a light on mobility challenges faced by individuals with physical and those with profound intellectual disability through their 3rd annual Little Eden CEO Wheelchair Campaign™, which will be launched on March 2 2020.

March is National Intellectual Disability month — and Little Eden Society challenges chief executives of companies to spend one day at work in a wheelchair to spread awareness about disability, and help to raise much-needed funds to help cover the cost of caring for 300 children and adults with profound intellectual disability at Little Eden Society. Of the 300 Little Eden residents, 189 (63%) rely on wheelchairs for all their mobility needs. The society operates on a budget of about R45-million annually and is often left out in the cold when it comes to corporate social investment (CSI) funding, of which about 94% is earmarked for education projects.

While not all wheelchair users have profound intellectual disability, they all face similar limitations. Some of the typical obstacles that wheelchair users face include small corridors in older buildings, parking lots that are challenging to get around, and uneven surfaces or steep slopes that are impossible to self-propel a manual wheelchair upon. Due to these, they are often excluded from fully participating in what could be simple daily activities. 

Sandra Khumalo, the Little Eden CEO wheelchair campaign ambassador, is a paralympic boat rower who lives the wheelchair experience and sees herself as a role model for other wheelchair users. “It is my wish for more chief executives to support this campaign, because they are in a position to influence disability rights in their organisations, not only around access for wheelchair users in the workplace, but also begin to influence how CSI allocates funding, particularly towards the most vulnerable groups such as people with profound intellectual disability.”

Participating in the Little Eden CEO wheelchair campaign allows chief executives to recognise the activity limitations that flow from using a wheelchair for daily mobility, enabling them to make informed strategic decisions to accommodate wheelchair users and other forms of disability in and at their own organisations.  Some of the partnering influential companies that have supported the campaign since its inception in 2018 include Discovery Limited, Multotec, Mix Telematics, Mandate Molefe, Boake Inc, Flender, Munsoft and others.

The impact of the campaign is valuable and it has earned attention from other socially conscious companies that subsequently took a decision to make their mark by joining the campaign for the first time this year. Some of these companies include OUTsurance, EOH, Sanlam Foundation, Kaya FM, Flender, Driv, SBM Energy, Fundi Capital, Oberon Pharma, Mei Construction services and S Guiricich Holdings, whose chief executives will each spend one workday in a wheelchair in March.

Barthi Patel, director of the South African Federation of Mental Health, whom together with its offices throughout South Africa will be supporting the campaign again this year, says: “It is important for the federation to support such initiatives, which aim to be the voice that advocates for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Join other South African brands and advocate for inclusivity by signing up for the 3rd annual LITTLE EDEN CEO Wheelchair Campaignnow.

Here’s how:

  • Visit the website: www.littleeden.org.za
  • Fill in and submit the Little Eden CEO Wheelchair Campaign registration form or contact [email protected] to assist with registering.
  • An invoice will be sent to you from Little Eden Society to process a donation of R50 000 for big companies and R30 000 for smaller companies.
  • Choose any suitable workday during March to participate.
  • Take a video or pictures and write about your “Day in a Wheelchair” experience and send it to [email protected] and it will be published on various print media, social media platforms and on the Little Eden website.
  • Challenge other chief executives in your field to do the same.

Your company will receive an 18A Tax Certificate which may be used to reclaim tax from Sars, as well as valuable BBBEE points. Plus, you’ll be part of something greater — helping to provide love and care for the most vulnerable members of society. No less than 70.7% of the 300 residents at the home have been abandoned and some come from indigent families who are unable to support them financially. Your participation literally helps to change lives.

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