The Children’s Developmental Centre (CDC) has unveiled the Disability Awareness Ribbon with the support of the Lagos State Government in commemoration in aid of the campaign for the Developmental Disability Awareness month.
At the launch in Lagos, key stakeholders in the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) space called for action by government at all levels to provide the necessary support towards the upbringing of children with various forms of disabilities.
They also expressed deep concern about the future of children with disabilities in the country where there is no clear cut policy their growth support plan and engagement that will better their lives.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Yinka Akindayomi, service director at CDC, said CDC over the last 20 years has been both a service provider and in forefront of advocating for children and adults with development disabilities and their families.
Akindayomi said in the course of the centre’s intervention it has realised that the inclusion of children and adults with any disabilities can only come through a joint effort.
She noted that there must be a harmonious and strong partnerships among stakeholders for any society to grow, adding that one of the great benefits of working together is the inspiration and ideas that can result from unity, because people from different backgrounds and levels of experience can help in creating solutions to problems in the society especially where stigma is concerned.
“Personal boundaries are limits we set for our selves as individuals but when we work together, there is the motivation to push beyond those boundaries which yields results. Nigeria will be better if we work together, because unity maximises strengths and brings out the best in its citizens. This value of unity is regularly seen in sports, culture, entertainment etc and we should endeavor to include in our everyday life, workplaces, homes and community at large,” she counseled.
In her remarks, Mrs. Emmanuella Otiono, educational consultant at Centre Escolar Educational, emotionally spoke about discrimination against people with disabilities, and advised that rather discourage them by attitude efforts should be made to identify those special talents in them to help them maximise their potentials.
Otiono said her centre like similar others offers a continuum of services that meet the specialised needs of young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities including those with autism or other autism spectrum disorders.
“We help youth in all aspects of their lives so they can be successful at home and in school, with friends and family. We understand that no two young people are alike and consider a number of factors including their home environment, upbringing and clinical history when creating Individualised Service Plans,” she said, adding that whether serving youth in foster care or providing supports in home and community settings, stakeholders should also help youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities reach new heights.
Otiono, expressly noted that youths with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities represent special populations at risk for juvenile delinquency, victimisation, educational failure, and poor employment outcomes and that they often have multiple, overlapping risk factors.
She noted that youth with disabilities typically receive mentoring, if at all, within disability-specific programmes rather than in inclusive, community-based programmes.
Speaking further, Otiono stated that early childhood is the period from prenatal development and a crucial phase of growth and development because experiences during early childhood can influence outcomes across the entire course of an individual’s life.
“For all children, early childhood provides an important window of opportunity to prepare the foundation for life-long learning and participation, while preventing potential delays in development and disabilities. For children who experience disability, it is a vital time to ensure access to interventions which can help them reach their full potential.
Despite being more vulnerable to developmental risks, young children with disabilities are often overlooked in mainstream programmes and services designed to ensure child development,” she added.
Other stakeholders at the forum expressed disappointment that these children, however, do not receive the specific supports required to meet their rights and needs as children with disabilities and their families are confronted by barriers including inadequate legislation and policies, negative attitudes, inadequate services, and lack of accessible environments.
They argued that if children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families are not provided with timely and appropriate early intervention, support and protection, their difficulties can become more severe and often leading to lifetime consequences, increased poverty and profound exclusion.
By Yemisi Izuora