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What does disability mean?

Sometimes children are unable to do certain things easily, and some children can’t do certain things at all. A child may:

  • be blind, or have serious problems with their sight
  • be deaf or hard of hearing
  • be unable to walk or move easily
  • struggle to learn, read or write

These children are amazing, because they have to work harder to do things that other children take for granted. This takes a lot of courage and determination.

A child with a disability may need extra help, like crutches, wheelchairs or braces or extra lessons, or special schools. They also need love, support, family, friendship and fun.  With this kind of support many people with disabilities achieve fantastic things.


Think of Zanele Situ, Ntando Mahlangu and Nathalie Du Toit, who all won medals at the recent Paralympics.

There are lots of different disabilities that can affect a person’s body or mind. People can be born with a disability, or the disability may be caused by an accident, abuse, an illness, or because they are very old. A disability can last a short time, or it can last for ever.

Remember, lots of people have disabilities, but everyone is deserving of kindness, respect, and dignity.

If you are reading this because you are living with a disability, remember:

It’s not nice for you when your body can’t do everything you want it to do. It’s not fair that you have to work so hard to make your body do what you want. It’s hard when you feel like others are looking at you or talking about you. BUT: remember that everyone has some activities that are easy for them, and some that need more effort. You have this disability, but you have done so amazingly in spite of that. You also have lots of talents and things that you are great at.

It’s natural sometimes to feel sad, or angry – but try not to give up. Whenever you feel mad, bad or sad about your disability, share those feelings with someone. Why not phone Childline? You can talk to a counsellor about how you are feeling, and he or she will understand and get you extra help if you need it 116.

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