On Friday a group of people with spinal cord injuries celebrated Casual Day by exploring Mall of the North in an Amazing Race that proved just how accessible the mall can be for people living with disabilities.
According to physiotherapist Clifford Ledwaba, who also attended the event, a spinal cord injury, damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal, often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury. This type of injury often leaves the patient wheelchair bound or unable to move around without assistance.
Mall of the North saw Casual Day, an awareness campaign that focuses on people with disabilities, as the ideal opportunity to host a special event to show people in wheelchairs that the mall is completely accessible.
René van der Merwe, Marketing Manager for Mall of the North, said their guests discovered everything the mall has to offer with the help of a list of clues taking them through the mall on a special quest in the race.
Helise Strydom, an occupational therapist at the Polokwane Provincial Hospital, said the aim of the day was to show their clients that they are still able to access and enjoy the mall despite their disability. “We also used the event as a way to help reintegrate these clients back into the community. With the support from the mall’s management the day was a big success and these aims were achieved.”
Van der Merwe said it was important to mall management that wheelchair users understand that they are welcome at Mall of the North, that the mall was accessible for all users and that there was no need to feel anxious when they were in the mall.
“We had a fun quiz to raise awareness about the mall’s accessibility and guests who answered the questions correctly, won mall vouchers. We also gave them mall vouchers with which they were able to purchase a delicious lunch from any of the restaurants in the mall,” she said.
Johnny Graham, Promotions and Awareness Officer for the Association for People with Disabilities (APD) in Polokwane said all participants enjoyed the trip through the mall and that Mall of the North will be a shopping destination of choice for these wheelchair users from now on.