By Bejay Browne
PAPHOS politicians participated in a basketball match with a difference on Sunday to promote inclusivity in the community.
“Tournament of Love”, which is part of a wider “We care” campaign, saw able bodied players compete in wheelchairs, alongside wheelchair users, in teams of three.
Each team was made up of local politicians and volunteers as well as one member of the basketball team of OPAK, the Cyprus Paraplegic Association. All played in wheelchairs.
“This is the first time that we’ve organised such an event, and it’s part of a wider campaign we are undertaking to support disabled people in the community,” said one of the organisers of the event, Konstantinos Letymbiotis, from NEDISY, the youth section of DISY. “The message is that no social group should be treated differently.”
For people with disabilities this means proper infrastructure that allows easy movement and access to public places and transport he said.
The mayor of Yeroskipou, Michalis Pavlides, mayor of Paphos, Phedonas Phedonos and councillors, Doros Paphities, Nicos Similides, Chrysanthos Savvides, Polis Polydorou and Kostas Rialas all took part.
Pavlides said he thoroughly enjoyed participating but that it had had made him even more aware of the difficulties which face wheelchair users on a day-to-day basis.
“We have to make more efforts, such as making more places on pavements suitable for wheel chair access. We also need to correct entrances to our parks and to create more disabled parking spaces at Yeroskipou square.”
Pavlides said it was the first time he had participated in such an event and asked NEDISY to organise further regular events.
“OPAK were very good players. Our team won our match 6/4.”
NEDISY have also been collecting unwanted plastic bottle tops and tin cans to be sold for recycling. The money raised will buy a wheelchair for the Kivotos foundation in Paphos, which looks after children with special needs.
“We have collected 40,000 bottle tops so far, but we need thousands more,” Letymbiotis said.
A basic wheel chair costs around 700 euros, he said, adding that OPAK use special ones to play basketball, which come with a 3,500 euro price tag.
Letymbiotis said that although the campaign was started by the NEDISY in Paphos, it has been picked up by the DISY youth organisation in other areas and is now a nationwide campaign.
“The message is that something you would usually throw out can in fact be used for a good cause.”
NEDISY have two recycling bins in Paphos where people can drop bottle tops and tin cans, one outside the municipal library in Paphos town (opposite the town hall), and the other at Yeroskipou Square.
Further information will be available in English in the coming days at http://www.nedisy.org/wecare-campaign/
(m) 99 458920