‘Disability doesn’t define me’: cerebral palsy and self-love

Nkateko Emily Mabasa is a 28-year-old Gold Award holder from the Republic of South Africa. She lives with a medical condition called cerebral palsy, which requires her to use crutches for mobility. Emily was first introduced to The Duke of Edinburgh International Award in 2008 at her school.

My motto is: I live with my disability, but I do not let my disability become my life.

“What I really love and appreciate the most about the Award is that doing the Award means you gain self-development, self-love, self-appreciation; it’s all about self-development and personal growth. With the Duke of Edinburgh International Award every single young person who enrols does it of their own volition and every single young person is celebrated for their personal development and achievements. Knowing this fact, I was encouraged to take my time, not to feel pressured to work at everyone’s pace, but at my own pace.

Girl with cerebral palsy
“My Award Leader at the school played a huge role in encouraging me to complete my Bronze level as I was overwhelmed with classwork at the time. I began my Award journey in 2008 with my Bronze level. Through my Bronze Award, I discovered a great love and passion for service and physical activity. Having enrolled in university in 2009, my Award Leader continued to support my completing the Silver and Gold levels. By 2012, I successfully completed my Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.

I would encourage others with a disability to come on board, and to challenge themselves to give themselves a chance before anything else.

“The Award has shaped me, moulded me, empowered me, and truly changed me for the better. I am so confident in myself and I can serve others whilst contributing positively to the world because of all that I learned with the Award. Ten years later, I am a proud Gold Award holder. I am a poet, a freelance dancer, a fashion designer, a public speaker, and an awarded role model (Valhalla Arts Tributes Awards 2017). I am also one of the directors for Youth Empowerment Gauteng Youth Committee 2018 (The President’s Award South Africa).

“With the life skills I gained over the past ten years, the Award has been worth every moment. Non-formal education changed my view of the world and my thinking. And, I feel accepted as I am, regardless of my physical abilities. I am forever grateful and because of the Award in South Africa, I AM WORLD READY!”


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