It is rare to see an article that talks about children with disability and portrays them in a positive manner. Children with disability in many cases get media coverage when they need financial assistance or medical help, which is important but not a true reflection of who they are. It is therefore refreshing to see IOL and Daily Sun portraying two children living with disability in a positive manner. For this reason Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD[1] to IOL and Daily Sun for giving these two children due recognition for their respective accomplishments.

The first article titled “Boy a force against global warming” (IOL, 25/01/2020) by Zinziswa Dzakwa is about an 11-year-old boy Chris-Tiaan Nortjie from KwaZulu-Natal who has autism. Despite this disability, he started an initiative of planting Spekboom plants in order to reduce the effects of global warming. He has planted an estimated 4918 Spekboom plants since last year and is aiming to plant 240 more plants a week.

The journalist took amazing pictures of the child and accessed him in the article. He was quoted saying “Nothing and no one will ever stop me from reaching my dream” this shows how he is confident and determined despite his challenges.

The second article titled “Nomsa grabs life by horns” (Daily Sun, 23/01/2020, p.g 8) by Noko Mashilo is about 17-year-old Nomsa Mbangeni who is partially blind and lives with her grandmother but insist on not giving up. She is working hard to earn her level 4 qualification at the Joburg Society for the Blind. In the article, Nomsa was quoted saying “I want to finish my matric and study social work so I can help other orphans just like me.” This is a powerful representation as it shows that she doesn’t let her circumstances limit her ability to be great.  She added “as a social worker, I’ll be able to protect their (children) rights and help them find homes where they can be cared for and loved”

What is common about these articles is that the two journalists reported about these confident children and gave them a voice to speak about their achievements, experiences and ambitions. Furthermore, both articles have striking and positive headlines which further emphasize the power of both children. It is empowering when journalists allow children to tell their own stories. According to MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media[2] journalists are encouraged to access children and allow them to participate in the news especially if the article is about their achievements and it is in their best interest to be accessed.

MMA would like to commend Daily Sun and IOL for reporting on these star children and accessing them. We would love to see more of these articles in the future.

By Msizi Mzolo

[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them