Nappy Run Ambassador: Julius Van Der Wat
Julius Van Der Wat is 41 years old, although he says he’s getting younger by the day. One of five children, he has a twin brother and three other brothers. Julius is also a Nappy Run ambassador. “Being a Nappy Run ambassador is a great honour to me because I am a part of the campaign that is changing people’s perception of nappies and the people who have to wear nappies beyond babyhood.”
Nappy Run is an annual campaign organised by the National Council of & for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) that runs from 3 October to 3 December, concluding on International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
The Nappy Run campaign raises awareness about the issues facing children with disabilities, advocates and lobbies for their rights, and also raises funds to buy nappies for children with disabilities. The highlight of the campaign is a 5km fun run at the Johannesburg Zoo on the first Saturday of November each year, coinciding with National Children’s Day. This year, the event will take place on Saturday, 2 November.
Julius has Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, which means he has little to no voluntary movement in all his limbs. “Luckily for me, Cerebral Palsy has only affected the motor cortex of my brain, thus my intelligence has not been affected,” he says. “My motto in life is: ‘I have Cerebral Palsy; Cerebral Palsy does not have me’, meaning I choose not to let my Cerebral Palsy define who I am. Yes, my Cerebral Palsy will always be a part of me, but that’s exactly what my Cerebral Palsy is. My Cerebral Palsy is a small part of who I am. I choose to focus on the things I CAN DO because I know what I can’t do.”
Julius does a sport called Boccia. “It’s an accuracy indoor ball sport played by severely physically impaired athletes,” he explains. “Boccia is a Paralympic sport and is loosely like the sport of Lawn Bowls. I am a three-time South African champion in the BC3 classification in Boccia.”
Something that most people don’t know about Julius is that he’s also an avid teddy bear collector.
Julius chooses to partner with Nappy Run because he believes the campaign is an important part of changing people’s perception of nappies. “A nappy gives people dignity, freedom and independence,” he says. “I wear nappies myself and know all too well about the costs and negative stigma attached to having to wear nappies. I would like to be part of breaking the stigma around people who have to wear nappies beyond babyhood.”