AS Nigeria joined rest of the world to commemorate 2022 World Cerebral Palsy Day, a nonprofit organization, Engraced Ones Prayers Support and Advocacy Initiative, EOPSAI, has called on Federal Government and Nigerians to focus attention on children with special needs.
The Convener, EOPSI, Biby Yinkere, made the call during a sensitization and awareness walk, which started from the popular Wuse Market in Abuja city-centre and terminated at ever-busy Berger Area of Abuja, and the month of October has been declared Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
This year theme of the Day is ‘We Decide’. It was inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this focuses on the right of participation for those living with Down Syndrome.
The Engraced Ones Prayers Support and Advocacy Initiative has been on the vanguard with advocacy to change the narrative around care, support and acceptance of children with special needs.
It has taken the sensitisation to families, communties and cities, which it has established a school for children with special needs in Jikwoyi in Abuja Municipal Area Council, Abuja.
She said: “6th of October every year globally is recognized as World Cerebral Palsy Day, and that is why we are here to sensitize people about the condition and to advocate for our children.
“We are basically out to sensitize people about special needs particularly, the condition called Cerebral Palsy, and today also happens to be globally recognized as a day of Dyslexia.
“And then this month of October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. So that is why we put everything together.
“We are optimistic that our awareness march and sensitization would make a whole lot of difference because
I remember the people standing right behind me are people who joined us in the first walk.
“So each time we come out like this we recruit or enlist people to join us and then people get to know. The next time people see such people on the streets there will be that smile rather than the stir.”
Meanwhile, speaking on the impact of her organisation on children with special needs, she explained, “You can see our children out.
“Before we started most of the children were not coming their parents were hiding them at home.
“Now they are accepted in schools,;and it is part of our impact and achievement.”
However, on the part of the Federal Government in giving a sense of belonging to children with special needs, she (Yinkere) said the government knows about their needs and challenges.
“The truth is that the federal government knows, and the federal government has policies about inclusion and about disability.
“But we say they should implement them”, she stated.
Also speaking was a member of the Engraced Ones Prayers Support and Advocacy Initiative, Emmanuel Boluwade said the society should be inclusive because persons living with disability have full personality despite the difference seen on their skins,bones and colour, and Nigerians should stop stigmatization and discrimination against children with special needs should be stopped by Nigerians.
“Stop the stigmatization and discrimination, they have equal rights. Just the way they gave birth to you they gave birth to them. They are not evil or possessed with evil spirits”, Boluwade said.