Two persons with disabilities among nine persons have emerged winners at the tester session of the first inclusive spelling bee competition in the Niger Delta Nigeria held at the Play Learn And Grow (PLAG) Season 9 Project in Rivers State.
PLAG, an initiative of Lifeline Organization for Children Empowerment (LOCE), is an inclusive play targeted to help children socialize with their peers with special needs to promote acceptance and inclusion, providing equal opportunity for all children in play.
The one-day program, with the theme “the creative child”, was carried out in Port Harcourt to commemorate the International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) which is 3rd December, as proclaimed by the United Nations, and contribute to the realization of Goal 10 (reducing inequality within and among nations) of the Sustainable Development Goals and the global promise of leave no one behind.
Speaking on the occasion, Ngozichukwuka Obiyo, the Executive Director, Lifeline Organization For Children Empowerment (LOCE) said the tester session of the Inclusive spelling bee was incredibly phenomenal.
According to her, “I was overwhelmed with joy starting from the preparation stage; It felt like something the specail needs participants have been waiting for.”
She futher says that the IDPwD 2022 theme “Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: the Role of Innovation in Fuelling an Accessible and Equitable World” was apt, as the world will become obsolete without innovation.
Obiyo calls the efforts of government, schools, organizations, community groups, parents, families, businesses and individuals to look within their environment, and find what they can do to make life easier for everyone especially those with disabilities.
She charged persons with disabilities to also get involved in innovation in the world they belong and participate. She said “it entails looking at their existing devices for what can be added or an entire new design to ensure improved quality of life. Until we become intentional in breaking barriers that limits persons with disabilities in homes, schools, churches, mosques we are not near achieving that UN desired inclusive world.
“It’s high time the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development begin to screen architectural designs and ensure upcoming buildings have spacious rooms that are accessible for wheelchairs, be intentional about road constructions and create access for everyone.”
Obiyo urged parents of children with special needs to make their homes accessible for their children, make necessary adjustments and accommodation in toilets, gates, doors, beds around the living rooms to ensure equity among family members. “Everyone have a responsibility to play in this matter” she said.
“Sadly, she notes that some persons are trapped in the pain that environmental inaccessibility have imposed on them. They are not able to move out, go to their religious worship centers, visit other people’s home, go to banks and make their own transactions, they are not able to access government buildings to process their passports, NIM and the like because of the barriers everywhere. Some persons with disabilities have woken up with emptied bank account as a result of lack of access to bank. We need change for PWDs.
“It is absolute discrimination and continued wickedness to continue to keep deaf ear to all advocacies everywhere for more accessible and equitable world. But doing the right thing is not only fulfilling the global goal of leaving no one behind but also fulfilling God’s mandate of everyone being equal in His sight.”
She thanked Vital Solution Consult, Nigerian Airforce Officers Wives Association (NAFOWA) Integrated Cateing Service, NTA, Lollys Cakes and Decor, LA Kings and other corporate partners and sponsors for contributing to the success of the event.
Highlights at the event was the donation of assistive devices by Nigerian Medical Association, Motivational Talk by a Visually Impaired Counselling Psychologist, Age Appropriate Bible Lesson, Presentation by children of all abilities in dance, drama, etc, Games and Face Painting.