Mandela Day is very special for the Casual Day team and each year the team visits a different school, centre or organisation that renders services to persons with disabilities. This year several of Casual Day’s new ambassadors spent 18 July at Cresset House, a self-sustaining community providing residential and work facilities for 60 adults with intellectual disabilities, including those with Down Syndrome and Autism.
The Casual Day team was there to assist the residents to decorate their hall for a big party. “Mandela Day and Casual Day have this in common: both projects aim to empower communities everywhere. Casual Day seeks to be instrumental in seeing persons with disabilities being included fully in society as interdependent contributors to a better society,” says Casual Day project leader Celeste Vinassa.
The ambassadors that visited Cresset House are Kashveera Chanderjith, the first profoundly deaf chartered accountant in South Africa and audit manager at Anglo American; Tujay Harmonix – or Jonathan Groenewald – a hip hop artist with Muscular Dystrophy; Khumo Moyane, who has a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta or ‘brittle bones’; Nicole Laxon, who has Absence Epilepsy, and Luvo Nelani, a human rights activist in the field of disability.
“Our ambassadors are persons with disabilities or people who have dedicated themselves to fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities,” says project leader Celeste Vinassa. “They speak from experience and knowledge about disability. It’s called ‘self-advocacy’. They are all people who have overcome great adversity, and are now ready to help Casual Day with its evolution.
“Casual Day changes lives one R10 sticker at a time. Our ambassadors are there to give society a deeper understanding of the world of disability and how to make the world a more respectful and nurturing place for everybody.”
Cresset House is situated in Glen Austin, Midrand (between the two major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria), on an expansive property covering eleven hectares. The facility comprises six residential houses, a bakery, an organic vegetable garden, ten vegetable tunnels, a woodwork centre, craft centres and contracts workshops, a stimulation centre, an administrative block and a community hall.
The over-arching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better – this is what Casual Day beneficiary organisations will be doing on Friday 5 September 2014, but it is never too early to start planning to dress up in the 2014 theme, which is Bring out the Bling!
“Cresset House is a long-time participant in Casual Day and we do encourage everyone in the Midrand area to get their stickers from Cresset House 011 314 1148 or 011 314 1848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Schools and businesses in the area can create community spirit in action by donation R10 for their sticker,” she says.
Casual Day is South Africa’s most successful fundraising project for persons with disabilities – and the amount raised for last year has climbed to R24.8 million. Sponsored by The Edcon Group, Casual Day is the flagship project of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA), which this year celebrates 75 years of service to the community of persons with disabilities.
Concludes Vinassa: “This year we celebrate Casual Day’s 20th birthday and invite everyone to help us celebrate the work of all our beneficiaries which are committed to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. Apart from the services they provide to their constituencies, they are involved in advocacy and lobbying for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream society. All our national beneficiaries are committed to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities – and are representative of a spectrum of conditions and disabilities.”
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.