Government at all levels have been urged to focus on developing the potential of children living with disabilities in the country.
This is coming as a Non-Governmental Organisation, Iyaniwura Children Care Foundation (ICCF) and Lagos State government celebrated the children living with disabilities in Lagos.
Speaking at the festival, the founder of the ICCF, Mrs Olajumoke Otitoloju, said the event was part of the NGO’s programme to give the challenged children an inclusive life.
According to her, society needs to do more in putting hope in the children and keep their hopes alive, adding that most of them are potentials for the country considering their talents.
She said, “In Nigeria of today, we count on what matters and issues concerning children with disability matters, children with disability suffer violence, discriminations and stigmatisation. The daily reality for most children with disability is that they are often condemned to a ‘poor start in life and deprived of opportunities to develop to their full potential and participate in societal activities.
“Children with disability are most vulnerable, denied, abused and marginalised in the society from Health, Education, Social Protection, participation and general wellbeing for their survival and development.
“We want people and the community to respect the right of the children living with disabilities because they live in the community and they are being stigmatized and discriminate there. So with this programme, we want the right of the children living with disabilities to be respected, we want the community at the grassroot to respect differences and the community has to recognise each person according to their differences.”
She also emphasised on the plan of the NGO to ensure the right of the special children.
“ICCF is taking this enlightenment campaign on Child’s Right Law to the grassroots with the aim to educate them on necessary steps to prevent an infringement on their rights, to promote the participation of children with disabilities as full members of society and discusses all aspects of their development, including access to education, health services and rehabilitation, social and legal assistance, play and cultural activities, vocational and life-skills training,” she said.
Meanwhile, the General Manager, Lagos State Office for Disabilities Affairs, Ogundairo Oluwadamilare, said that ensuring purposeful living for children living with disability remained pertinent to the Lagos State government.
“Everyday, the state government through LASODA is looking at means to make life more meaningful to these people and also create more values in them. That is why it is important for the government to synergise with foundations like Iyaniwura, who is doing so much to ensure the children are well nurtured.
The festival, which had various dignitries in attendance featured several programs including panel discussions by the special children, fashion parade and others.
Some of the children who spoke with our correspondent, demanded an inclusive society, saying that the best gift they need is not money but love from all.