Paraplegic centre in Prague helps the disabled from all over the country

The word "Paraple" in Czech means an umbrella, but it can also be an abbreviation for paraplegic. And in this case it really is. Paraple is the name of a house in the outskirts of Prague which functions as a consultation centre for people confined to a wheel chair. Earlier this week the centre organized an "open day" to show people how their disabled fellow citizens live. Alena Skodova went there and brings this report.

Paraple on the first sight looks like a hotel in a holiday resort - airy rooms with white furniture, nice curtains, and a swimming pool on the ground floor. Several people in wheelchairs are working at desks with computers. A spacious gymnasium resounds with laughter. Marketa Janeckova, in charge of Paraple's marketing, told me that renovation of the centre finished three years ago, and explained how the centre worked: Marketa introduced me to Karel Tunzer, who told me how he had become paraplegic:

"As in many other cases, it happened in a car accident. For just a minute I unfastened my safety belt wanting to change trousers for shorts, because it was too hot. In that very moment the car skidded, I was thrown by acceleration out of it and my 12th vertebra was seriously damaged, leaving me in a wheel chair."

But even after the accident, Karel was one of the luckier ones. His girl friend stayed with him, they married and now have one-year-old twin boys. Karel goes to work every day, working as a building engineer. And as he told me, in Paraple he found many friends, who showed him what can be done even if one is confined to a wheelchair. Now Karel devotes much of his time to sporting activities. So is finding new friends a frequent case here? Marketa Janeckova: