The wheelchair is one of the most commonly used assistive devices for enhancing personal mobility, yet thousands of South Africans remain bed-ridden; rely on family members to carry them around; or turn to unsafe and uncomfortable home-made alternatives. The Sweethearts Foundation believes that a wheelchair is a basic human right. It allows passionate South Africans to uplift the lives of less fortunate people in the communities. Its mission is to provide wheelchairs to those who need them most, thereby giving them independence and an opportunity to be an invaluable member of their community.
In 2009, together with the support of corporates, schools and volunteers, the “Sweethearts” teamed up to collaborate with the “Tops & Tags” and “Bread tags for Wheelchairs” initiatives which collect and recycle bread tags and plastic bottle tops in exchange for wheelchairs. Most recipients are children with special requirements, as they are long-term wheelchair users and require customised wheelchairs, which are very expensive. One wheelchair required 450 kg of tops.
On Valentine’s Day 2013, Dora Williams was the first beneficiary of a wheelchair and lead to the foundation naming them “the sweethearts”. During that year, the Sweethearts Foundation became an official Non-Profit Organisation. Sarah Ledwaba was the 100th beneficiary of a wheelchair in 2014. Redewaan Jacobs received his wheelchair (the 250th one), in 2016. To date 294 wheelchairs have been handed over to beneficiaries. An astonishing 43.3-ton bottle tops and 5.9-ton bread tags have been recycled.
The Sweetheart Foundation has 51 collection points and is growing by the day. Val Thomson, part of the Great Brak Conservancy steering committee and member of the Sweethearts, initiated collection points for their “Tops and Tags” project. There are collection bins at the municipal offices, the library, De Dekke Spar, The Youth Café and at schools and retirement villages. Under the Conservancy’s guidance, the collection of plastic bottle tops and bread tags on behalf of the Sweethearts Foundation, has hit its first big milestone.
Scott Thomson, the Conservancy Chair, reported that 457 kg of bottle tops and 18.54 kg of bread tags were collected recently by the Sweethearts Foundation for delivery to their recyclers. These proceeds are enough to provide someone in need with a wheelchair. The project is being embraced by more and more people and it hopes to be able to reach its next 450 kg much quicker than the first. The Conservancy extends its appreciation to everyone who helps the collective environmental project.
For more information on the conservancy and its projects, contact Scott Thomson: firstname.lastname@example.org.