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The Jumping Kids programme is continuing to grow, with three youngsters being taken care of this year. Pictured from left to right are Vhutuhawe (Vhutu) Nemutandani, Ndiene Netshivhambe, and Wamanda Mathisa. Photo supplied.

Jumping Kids changing lives one child at a time

Date: 22 February 2024 By: Andries van Zyl

Charity

The Isability Sports Club from Louis Trichardt and their Jumping Kids project is gaining momentum, helping to change the lives of a few promising young students through a process of inclusive education.

“Inclusive education provides learners with physical disabilities access to mainstream schooling. Is it an impossibly difficult task? No. It starts with the will to make it happen,” said Ms Sandy James from Isability.

Jumping Kids is a non-profit and a public-benefit organisation that provides prosthetic limbs to children with limb amputations. This improves their mobility and facilitates access to school and other activities that most able-bodied children take for granted. “Although the Jumping Kids programme has [had] advanced inclusive education in Gauteng for more than a decade, it was only a few years ago that Vhutuhawe (Vhutu) Nemutandani became the first learner in the Jumping Kids programme in Limpopo,” said Sandy.

Vhutu was born with a condition called tibial hemimelia, which resulted in the double amputation of his legs at a young age. His mother passed away early in his life, leaving him in the care of his guardian. He attended a special school for several years. This all changed in 2018 when Vhutu became the recipient of prosthetic limbs, courtesy of Jumping Kids.

“Suddenly, he was mobile. He tasted a new sense of freedom and was ready to shift his boundaries. Vhutu was stagnating academically, although he was thankful for the specialised attention he received at his special school. In 2021, he was enrolled in Grade 5 at a mainstream independent school in Louis Trichardt, Emmanuel Christian School (ECS). He is now in Grade 8. He takes his role as the Limpopo Junior Jumping Kids ambassador seriously and assists with awareness activities at both special and mainstream schools,” said Sandy.

In January 2024, two more boys joined Vhutu at ECS. Ndiene Netshivhambe has a condition called ectrodactyly, while Wamanda Mathisa is a single-leg amputee. Vhutu and Ndiene are currently in Grade 8, and Wamanda is in Grade 3. “Jumping Kids and Isability have set up a three-bedroom flat in Louis Trichardt to accommodate the Jumping Kids children who now attend mainstream school together. This was made possible by funding from De Beers, Komatsu, and the Summit Africa Foundation. The boys are cared for by a resident house mother. They are also engaged in various extramural activities, which include swimming lessons,” said Sandy. Surat Patel has donated Isability a printer for the Jumping Kids flat which will be used by the learners for assignments, while Janene Holtzhausen from Dit and Dat helped the flat with some furniture.

Vhutu consistently performs in the top 10 in his class of 50 learners. As the programme unfolds, many are becoming aware of the ease with which inclusive education can be accomplished. “Ongoing attention to greater levels of inclusivity will have a positive impact on communities where children and people with "disabilities" are often "hidden away". These children traditionally face serious accessibility challenges and limited opportunities,” said Sandy.

Skills development, tertiary education, and employment are rare commodities for a 'disabled' person. “Remember, once you know it, grow it! If you are aware of the need for inclusive education, spread the word!” said Sandy.

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the project in any way is welcome to call Sandy on Tel 084 506 3333.

 

 
 
 

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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

 
 

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