By Kelechukwu Iruoma
Children living with disabilities in Lagos state and its environs may now heave a sigh of relief as the state government has said it will create more disability schools to accommodate children living with disabilities in the state.
The Executive Governor of the State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by the Deputy Governor Dr. Idiat Adebule, said this at the first ‘Stakeholders Summit on Disability’ organized by the office of the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Social Development. The Summit, whose theme was”Ability in Disability: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine,” was held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
According to him, “As part of the state effort to promote awareness of early intervention on children living with disability, more disability schools will be created and it will be part of the 2018 budget of the state.”
The state government, some parents and medical experts also agreed to take concerted efforts against disabilities in children. The government has decided that every category of people must, henceforth, align forces to make life more meaningful for children living with disabilities.
The governor said early intervention of disability in the affected children would help a lot in giving hope of a meaningful life to those children.
He said: “Early intervention of disabilities in children will afford you the opportunity to do what is needful medically. Since nothing can be done to change the circumstances of those children, you must show them the ability to support them in harnessing their potentials.”
In her welcome address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Social Development, Mrs. Joyce Onafowokan, disclosed that circumstances should not be obstacles to our dreams with the promise that the issues of disability will receive greater attention this year necessitated the Summit.
According to her, too often, some professionals make the mistake of telling parents what they need only, in handling disability in children. However, she said with the summit, the state government was beginning a new journey of putting systems in place to be better at early diagnosis and intervention.
In his keynote address, Professor Julius Ademokoya, Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan, said there is no person with disabilities without abilities for one’s good and the good of humanity; provided necessary assistance is given.
He advised that some programmes and procedures must be put in place to ensure early identification of disabilities. Among the programmes he suggested are: Antenatal Disability Screening, Newborn Screening and Ability/Disability Assessment.
For the way forward, Professor Ademokoya said Intervention programmes for managing disabilities should target establishing Special Needs Education (SNE) that would provide the required education to curtail disabilities, educate persons with disabilities and sieve out abilities from disabilities.
He insisted that adequate support must be guaranteed for persons living with disabilities through: Attitudinal change programmes, Instituting necessary legislations and Highlighting capabilities and achievement of persons living with disabilities.