Special Olympics South Africa has just partnered up with the reigning Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida and her foundation to support learners with intellectual disabilities in her home province of Limpopo.
Currently residing in Sandton, Musida’s Shudufhadzo Foundation partnered with the Fulufhelo Special School in Thohoyandou, Vhembe to try to create more awareness and help children with intellectual disabilities.
While Musida has not been affected by the issue directly she said that it is vital to be conscious of the challenges. “It is important to note that while intellectual disability is not a mental illness, children and adults living with it experience stigmatisation, discrimination, bullying, neglect and marginalisation which leaves them at greater risk of developing mental health issues.”
Adding that most are often only diagnosed with intellectual disability and not screened for potential mental health issues.
Chairperson of Special Olympics South Africa, Dr Mathews Phosa mentioned that the conversation surrounding mental health is a much needed one, now more than ever due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus has infected millions of people across the world, yes, but many more millions are facing potential mental health issues as a result of this pandemic and we need to prepare for that.”
Musida said that an important partnership like this has great effects on children and people living with both intellectual disability and mental health issues.
Phosa added that global studies show alarming effects on the mental health of mainstream children who have had their lives disrupted by lockdown.
“The partnership between Special Olympics South Africa and the Shudufhadzo Foundation is committed to using this project to create a model of support for learners with an intellectual disability that can be replicated at special-needs schools across the country.”
Passionate about giving back, Musida is in high spirits to do more for the community while preparing for the Miss Universe competition later this year. All in the comfort and convenience of living in Africa’s richest square mile.