The Lagos State Government has reiterated its commitment to give children with special needs a sense of belonging by creating a safe place for them to grow and be valuable to the society.
Speaking at the commissioning and handing over of a recreational park built by Mary Special Needs Foundation for Modupe Cole Child and Treatment Home School, Akoka, Yaba, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule said the desire of the state government is to improve on the existing model of creating the suitable environment for all children in the state to be valuable.
Adebule who was represented by the Executive Chairman, SUBEB, Dr. Ganiyu Sopeyin said with the construction of the recreational park, the management of the Mary Special Needs Foundation has done well to instill confidence and give them the opportunity to express themselves through sports and other recreational activities.
“The project is the best way to continue to support these special children and make them part of the society. It is an assurance from the government and many organisations that we hold you dearly to our hearts and we are constantly thinking of programmes to ensure you live a fulfilled life,” he stressed.
He said essence of the occasion is to remind many people that we can continue to support the government in many ways, adding that the construction of the facility should motivate organisations and well-meaning individuals to complement government’s efforts in making life better and brighter for the citizen.
While applauding the Chief Executive Officer of the foundation for touching and imparting the lives of the special needs children and giving back to the society, the Deputy Governor also commended other corporate and religious organisations that have made tremendous contributions to the development of education in the state.
Addressing the gathering on behalf of the Wife of the Governor, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Social Development, Mrs. Joyce Onafowokan said there is no better and noble cause than creating a wonderful future for the children of the privileged, adding that nurturing of these special children should be the responsibility of all institutions in the society.
She said the facility provided by the care centre, will greatly add value to teaching, learning and recreation of the physically challenged pupils in the school and that it will also inspire others to see the need to cater for these children and value their existence.
The Director, Administration and Human Resource, Mrs. Folashade Lediju who spoke on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye said the state government is running five special schools; 31 inclusive education units at the primary education level and 13 inclusive secondary schools to provide education and vocational skills for challenged children.
“I am proud to inform you that two pupils of this school won gold medal in unified soccer and silver in 100 meter race competitions in the 2015 Special Olympics World Game in Los Angles, USA. What this says to me is that there is great ability in disability if the resources are properly harnessed and directed towards productive purposes.”
Presenting a paper on the theme: ‘Changing the world of the person with special needs in institutions’, Dr. Modupe Olaiya noted that barriers associated with the safety of special children deserve attention from all stakeholders and decisive action from decision makers is required to change the narrative.
According to her, appropriate legislation to ensure adequate provision of social services like healthcare, counselling, assistive technology, transportation are formulated which would make them valuable to themselves and the society.
She said effective sensitisation of the public to respect the identity of these special individuals and always be willing to help would discourage them from roaming around and begging for alms.
“Today, many special people in our society are subjected to street begging because they lack proper care from their families. These people needs to be given a chance to work by evaluating and assigning them to jobs according to their abilities as they also have potentials to contribute to the economic growth of the society.”
She affirmed that changing their world should include involving them in decisions that affect their lives, while urging all stakeholders to help improve their standard of living by adequately providing for their welfare.
The CEO of the foundation, Mrs. Abiodun Oseni said the society owe it a sense of responsibility to cater for the physical and psychological needs of these special children because only through this they can truly relate well and feel safe.
She commended the state government for being a key crusader in programmes that offer the best and nurture the future of the children, while urging other institutions to find a way to cherish these children in their own capacity.