Physically challenged people are an integral part of the Smart Young Mindz Challenge, which encourages high school pupils to develop a keen interest in mathe- matics, physical science, technology and entrepreneurship.
The competition aims to stimulate Grades 8, 9 and 10 pupils to take up maths, science, technology and entrepreneurship, to investigate challenges in their communities and to generate ideas for products or services that will fill gaps in the market and also become commercially viable.
Smart Young Mindz is organised and sponsored by the Gauteng government's business and infrastructure development arm, Blue IQ, together with Sowetan (for the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation) and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE).
Smart Young Mindz encourages the participating pupils from 100 selected schools in Gauteng to formulate and implement ideas aimed at making the 2010 Soccer World Cup accessible and enjoyable for people with disabilities.
Roxane Adonis, a Grade 9 pupil at Kliptown Secondary in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, says the competition exposed participants to the reality of people who are living with disabilities.
"To be able to come up with ideas around the challenges, we had to understand the world people living with disabilities live in, the challenges they face and what they believe can make their lives easier," Adonis says.
"Our research led us to host a workshop on September 12, with three members of the local Destiny Disabled Club. We used this platform to ask questions that would help us prepare better for the competition.
"Being able to interact with people living with disabilities provided us with a chance to understand their world better, and it influenced how our team will approach the competition.
"The competition has shown the team how everything is connected to each other such as maths, science, technology, and so forth.
"And also how these subjects can assist in improving the lives of many people in their communities," Adonis says.
lThe author is a media and public relations practitioner at Blue IQ, a multibillion-rand initiative of the Gauteng provincial government, tasked with investing in economic infrastructure development in areas including tourism, technology, transport and manufacturing.