Children with disabilities, CWDs, have advocated for an end to stigmatization and discrimination by community members, families and close associates as well as adequate provision for the welfare of CWDs by the Lagos State Government and Local Government Authorities.
The CWDs made their demands during the festival of childhood, an event organized by Iyaniwura Children Care Foundation, ICCF, as part of 2021 Children’s Day celebration.
Themed: “The Right of Children with Disability – Our Community Concern”, the event had in attendance community representatives from LGAs within Ikeja Division, Disability rights advocates and representatives of disability associations and cluster groups.
During the panel session, Anthony Kupe, a child with cerebral palsy who is a graphic designer, lamented how people see CWDs as objects and only deserving of alms.
“We need people to encourage us and believe in us. You also need to end stigmatization against us, don’t think all we have to do is to receive your money. Show us love, that is all we need,” he quipped.
Adejobi Adebolu, another child with cerebral palsy said, “a little smile, a little assistant is what we require, don’t give us money as it is charity and won’t solve our problems, show empathy.”
Also speaking as a member of the panel, Boyo Mayowa said, “all we need is assistive devices to enhance our abilities, don’t just help us because you want people to think you’re doing the right thing.
“If everything is in place and everywhere is accessible, our disability will not be pronounced”, Boyo added.
She also stressed the need for “parents to encourage their children with disabilities to be able to interact positively with people without disabilities” adding that, “we should choose to challenge discrimination and stigmatization against Persons with Disabilities.”
Other CWDs that were panel members included Aniekan Enobong, a Deaf lady and Theophilus Oluja, a child with Albinism, they both tasked members of the public to believe in the dreams of CWDs and support them to grow.
Mrs. Maltida Otitoloju, CEO, ICCF, commended the efforts of the Lagos State government regarding disability inclusion but noted that, “we’ve not gotten to where we want to and we would want the Lagos State Government to increase budgetary allocations to issues of CWDs.”
Otitoloju said, “we have invited different LGAs in Ikeja Division to this event so that they know what disability is about and that they can accept CWDs as part of their communities.
“The community needs to understand the diversity that exists and show love as lots of communities and parents live in denial”, she added.
She also noted that it is believed that participants at the event would go home with a different perception and orientation about the rights of CWDs.
Mr. Dare Dairo, General Manager, Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs, LASODA, expressed his excitement about the various activities carried out by the children and remarked that, “tomorrow is exciting, and there is a whole lot of possibilities with these young ones we have here.”
He buttressed that, “I am excited about the level of awareness that has been created here and I will love us to explore opportunities to make these children relevant for the attainment of disability-inclusion in the state.”
On her part, Mrs. Rose Mordi, Executive Director, Down Syndrome Foundation charged parents to use good terminologies to describe their children and “should not discriminate against your children.”