The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Oluranti Adebule and the wife of the state Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode recently joined hundreds of students living with disabilities to celebrate the 11th International Day for Persons Living with Disabilities (PWD).
The programme, held at the Blue Roof, Agidingbi, Ikeja, with the theme, â€˜Transformation towards Sustainable and Resilient Society for Allâ€™, featured among others, marchpast and carnival display, fashion parade and cultural dance by the special need students from different schools in the state.
In her remarks, Adebule said the theme of this yearâ€™s celebration was in line with the inclusive governance mantra of the administration in fulfilment of the governorâ€™s promise to assist people living with disabilities in the state to realise their dreams and live a more comfortable life.
â€œThis government is determined not to leave this huge population of Lagosians at the mercy of alms-givers, but to integrate and assist them to be self-reliant, contribute their quota towards the socio-economic and political development of the state.â€
To increase the number of employable PWDs in the future, she said the government embarked on mass mobilisation and public enlightenment to ensure that physically challenged children are enrolled in the stateâ€™s special and inclusive schools.
â€œEnrolment has increased from the 1,049 students in 2015 to 2661, while the number of schools have also increased from 29 primary inclusive schools to 31 and secondary inclusive schools increased from 6 to 12.â€
Adebule expressed delight that the children are reciprocating the gesture of government by participating in competitions and winning medals.
â€œOur physically challenged children won the gold medal in floor hockey and silver medal in floor ball at the 2017 special Olympic winter game in Austria.â€
Mrs. Ambode urged the challenged students never to feel rejected or dejected as the government is determined to help them achieve their full potential.
She said the theme of this yearâ€™s celebration sought to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life, while appealing to them to register with the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA) to enable them benefit from the various programmes put in place to assist PWDs realise their dreams and live a fulfilled live.
She also appealed to parents who have children with disabilities to enrol them in the special schools so that government can help them realise their potential.
â€œThere is no point hiding because of physical challenges, all parents who have challenged children should not see them as bad omen, they are created specially by God to achieve specific purposes, they are not destined to be beggars, they are capable of living independently if assisted to acquire requisite skills.â€
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye expressed delight about the state being a front runner in making life more meaningful for people with special needs with the law enacted to protect people with disabilities irrespective of the degree their challenges.
She urged members of the public to embrace the people living with disabilities and empathise with them.
â€œWe should contribute morally and financially to the education of the less privileged. They should be given opportunity of gainful employment in as much as they are qualified without discrimination.â€