Taking place on Sunday, 3 March, many enthusiastic students and Grahamstown residents filled the Eden Grove Blue lecture theatre for a talk about the right to access to education for people with disabilities.
This talk was hosted by founder and face of The Chaeli Campaign, Chaeli Mycroft and her mother Zelda Mycroft who has also played a big part in The Chaeli Campaign.
Chaeli was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age and has gone through her life doing many great things in her rather iconic personalised wheelchair.
The International Children’s Peace Prize winner and Nobel Medal recipient explained to the audience how her disability inspired her to start The Chaeli Campaign with the help of her older sister and close friends to help raise funds to buy herself a motorised wheelchair. After raising the funds (R20 000) in just seven weeks, Chaeli said that she knew she had to continue with the Chaeli Campaign and use it to help other people with disabilities.
“It would have been selfish of me to stop the project after I had got what I needed, I realised that we had the power to help other children like myself and to change people’s view on differently abled people and activism as a whole” says Mycroft.
Since then The Chaeli Campaign has gone on to help children all over South Africa who have disabilities. The project has help set up and run therapy programmes, outreach programmes, inclusive education programmes and assistive devices programmes to name a few.
During the talk, a very powerful video of Chaeli accepting her International Children’s Peace Prize in Holland in November 2011 was shown. In the video, she speaks of how disabled children are no less able than other children when it comes to learning and she stresses the importance of acknowledging that.
“I can tell you from experience that a child’s power is no less in a differently abled body, children with disabilities can think of great things and create the most amazing plans” says Mycroft.
Chaeli is a perfect example of this statement and can be said to be a truly inspirational figure in the world of activism. The talk was a perfect way to start off Human Rights Week here at Rhodes and a firm reminder that we are all capable of doing great things for ourselves and for others, no matter what challenges may face us.
Chaeli will be participating in the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour this coming weekend, for more information, follow The Chaeli Campaign’s Facebook page here- https://www.facebook.com/TheChaeliCampaign?fref=ts
For a full feature on Chaeli’s story, see the upcoming Activate Newspaper edition.