As difficult as it sometimes is for disabled people to get around in the US, things are even worse in Uganda. Very few buildings are accessible. There’s a lack of transportation. And there are few activities for disabled people to do.
Fortunately, Uganda’s Paralympic Committee is working to change this. They provide a variety of disabled sports including rowing, soccer, and swimming. But perhaps their most popular sport is wheelchair basketball.
The Uganda Wheelchair Basketball Association (UWBA) was founded in 2007 in the city of Gulu and has been growing ever since. When they first started, they used your typical manual wheelchairs which, although good for getting around, are not great for sports. Players kept falling over during games. Now, they use sports wheelchairs which prevent falls and allow for quicker maneuvers.
From Gulu, the UWBA spread across Uganda and is now starting to expand internationally. Members plan to travel to Somalia to start new teams. And there’s talk of the Uganda Wheelchair Basketball Association playing international games against Kenya.
But most importantly, the Association is improving people’s lives. Joan Nagujja has a paralyzed leg and hand, and says she always felt self-conscious growing up. But playing basketball has improved her self-esteem. She’s proud of her sports accomplishments and no longer afraid to talk to people. And her social circle has expanded greatly. In addition to playing basketball, she also volunteers on the Uganda Paralympic Committee.
To learn more about the UWBA, you can visit their website at http://www.uwcba.org/.