Safety Experts Seek Inclusion, Protection Of Children With Special Needs
With the Presidency signing the discrimination act against persons living with disability, these stakeholders believe it is a clear step to including people with special needs especially children.
This was the thrust of discussion at the third edition of the School Safety Submit (SSS) with the theme, “Safety and Education of the Child With Special Needs,” which held recently at Avi-Cenna International School, Ikeja in Lagos.
According to the convener, Ugochi Obidiegwu, the theme was necessary since children with special needs seem ignored and excluded. “This may not be a conscious act, but we find out that a lot of child-based activities have those with special needs missing and by this, we will further endanger the lives of those living with disability.”
Director General, Lagos State Safety Commission and guest speaker, Dr. Hakeem Dickson, stressed that the country seems not to have measures in place to cater for these special needs children unlike what is obtainable in other parts of the world.
He added that children with special needs are mostly accomodated in sports, hence you find them at the National Stadium preparing for Olympics. “This is not good enough as there are diverse areas they can flourish. As a commission, we will continue to do our bid in the society and spread the word of safety to all spheres of life.”
Chief Executive Officer, Fresh Fountain Consulting, HSE professional and keynote speaker, Monica Nwosu, said that it is important to devote time and attention to these children to aid them harness their full potential. “For any child to develop, his/her development goes beyond academics; it includes the mental, emotional and physical development.”
Nwosu further expressed her displeasure over the percentage of the nation’s budget earmarked for education, which is about seven per cent and doesn’t match the recommendation of the UNESCO of about 15 to 20 per cent for developing countries. “If our budget is not sufficient for our regular children, what is the fate of children with special needs.
“There is need to have a statistics of children with special needs and teachers who train them, as majority of them lack understanding thereby making it difficult to teach these special children,” he noted.
The founder, Benola Cerebral Palsy Initiative, Femi Gbadebo, who has a child with Cerebral Palsy (CP), said that the condition does not have a cure and will only require patience, endurance and dedication to help them thrive. While noting that children with CP are not intellectually disabled and so shouldn’t be written off, he stressed that early detection, intervention, acceptance, disclosure and the need for inclusion is important.
“Many people know what their problem is but they don’t want anybody to know. Inclusion is so vital when it comes to children with special needs. The affected child must be included and this starts from the home. The parents should accept the child first before the siblings and other members of the community will.
“In order to properly include children with disabilities, there’s need to prepare an inclusive learning environment, provide teachers, staff and students for inclusion. Organisations also need to create access, build staff capacity on disability, identify and celebrate staff members who have children with special needs,” Gbadebo added.
The convener, who is also the author of Adventures with Muna, a cartoon inspired book that teaches child safety, unveiled its third edition at the event which centres on the different children with disability and the easiest way to make other children handle them.
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