Where attitudes have no room to be a disability

Botshelo Selogilwe

Botshelo Selogilwe

The invitation to Forest Town School made me learn so much.

The school was opening two of their upgraded playgrounds, supported by Sasol and the Whittaker family.

Forest Town cares for children with special needs, which include cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, accidental brain injury and epilepsy.

The improved playgrounds are especially designed for therapy of children who cannot walk.

As I was taking the trip around the school, children greeted me with smiling faces.

One child asked me "whose mother are you?" I answered "I am just visiting to see your school".

Perhaps I am too analytic but his question raised a feeling that he does not see visitors often.

When he does it must be one of the parents. It crossed my mind that the community needs to visit the school more so that the children are not surprised to see visitors.

I observed that in each and every classroom there are stimulating toys and colourful pictures, specifically designed to raise the interest in learning.

One classroom door had a note that read "attitudes are the real disability".

The school cares for children between three to 18 years and was established in 1948. The majority of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Programme manager Marion Leatherbarrow says: "Our school has 350 learners from 11 regions of Johannesburg. We have 22 areas of operation and 85 members of staff.

Head of skills and work experience programme, Ronalda Lucas, says: "We take learners between 16 to 18 years old. We focus on skills development and work placement.

"The school has a hair salon, computer room, and a garden where children plant tomatoes, sweet peppers and herbs."

Forest Town is a registered non-profit and public benefit organisation. The school still needs to replace its leaking roof. It can also use new floor tiles and 25 computers.