During his recent visit to the communities on the Cape Flats, President Thabo Mbeki handed out 30 wheelchairs to people with physical disabilities at a function held in the Mitchell's Plain Community Health Centre.
The function was part of UCT's Division of Physiotherapy's outreach programme to provide wheelchairs for people who are permanently disabled.
Since PhD student and senior physiotherapy student Merle Futter launched the project in Lotus River in May, 2003, 155 wheelchairs and assistive devices have been distributed to the community and 18 concrete ramps and pathways have been built to provide access to homes.
"Requests for a further 250 wheelchairs at a cost of R950 000 are currently being processed for distribution around the entire Western Cape," Futter added.
Futter's quest began in October last year after seeing the plight of disabled people at the Lotus River Day Hospital and she became aware how few of these people were mobile. "Some had not been able to leave their homes for 12 years," she said.
Her PhD research specifically involves the social barriers that exclude people with physical disabilities from leading full lives within their communities.
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