Sunday, April 29, 2018

Negative attitudes from teacher hindering realization of inclusive education policy

 Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Education has said that negative attitudes from mainstream teachers and pupils towards children with special needs inhibit the full realization of the inclusive education policy

He also acknowledged that logistics issues as well as a lack of adequately skilled staff to respond to the specific needs of children with special needs was another challenge to implementing the inclusive education policy

In a speech read of his behalf by Mr Anthony Boateng, Deputy Director General of the Ghana Education Service, he said: “We cannot and must not waver from our moral obligation to promote a fully inclusive society. We must challenge ourselves and each other to put in pragmatic measures that truly address the issue in a meaningful and impactful manner

The Minister of Education said this at Special Education Show on Saturday by the Rex Yankey Otoo Foundation. The show attracted stakeholders providing various services for special needs education.

Dr Opoku-Prempeh said “We must intensify our public education efforts regarding societal attitudes to persons with disabilities. The media has a huge role to play in reaching out through sensitization programmes on their platform.”

The Minister of education said it was important to ensure that children with special needs do not miss out on their education simply because of their condition.

“Government of Ghana has been unrelenting in its bid to provide all children with every opportunity  to get an education,” he said pointing out that education was core to a productive and skilled workforce  fit and relevant for the purposes of a 21st century society.

Dr Opoku-Prempeh urged organizations  to consider supporting special education and special needs programmes as part of their corporate social responsibility and said with respect to special education, 

we encourage organizations to do more in aligning their corporate social responsibility.

He said that will help with awareness creation and dispel some of the stigma and prejudice  in some minds towards special education needs and disability in general.

The Minister said a society’s measure of its humanity is how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.

“Individuals, the media, civil society, traditional rulers and religious organizations all have a role to play to ensure that our vulnerable citizens are treated with dignity and respect,” he added

Friday, April 27, 2018

Family of a boy with cerebral palsy seek help

 The family of a 14 year old boy with cerebral palsy is calling for support from the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo – Addo to give the boy a meaningful life

The family living in village called Quashie in the Eastern region has also expressed wishes for the boy to be accepted in a boarding facility since the mother of the boy passed on about a month ago

The boy who is severely malnourished is now in the care of her 90 year old grandmother and her father who has six other children apart from him.

Mr Samuel Acquah, Father of the child told the media that it’s been difficult taking care of the boy since the mum died about a month ago.

He said “I am a man and cannot be there for the child all the time so my aged mother has taken over that role but it’s difficult.

Mr Acquah known in the town as Kwaku Boi said he wish there was a boarding facility that took care of children with cerebral palsy.

“If we get a school that has boarding facilities and can take care of a child with cerebral palsy, we will be happy to take him there but again we need government to help us with the finances

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy visited the family to share words of encouragement as well as share experiences on how to manage a child with cerebral palsy

She said the project links families raising children with cerebral palsy to the limited but available support services in Ghana and promised to share the story of the family with the media to get the necessary attention.

Mrs Awadzi said the Special Mothers Project also hope to organize regular and periodic workshops for journalists in Ghana to enhance understanding and coverage of issues on cerebral palsy

“We need the media to understand the situation of such families and be able to help seek appropriate governmental policy interventions for children with cerebral palsy.”

She called on the government to engage parents of children with cerebral palsy when drafting policies that concerns such children.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

We want to make Inclusive Education a reality – Director SpED

Ms Amina Achiaa, Director of the Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service on Tuesday expressed government’s commitment to make Inclusive education a reality in Ghana

She said: “We are working to make inclusive education a reality in Ghana; we know that children with special educational needs are equally important and we want to work to ensure a good future for them

Inclusive education is a system where all students/pupils regardless of their status or disability are welcomed in school and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspect of school life.

Ms Achiaa said this when the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy issues in Ghana donated 10 boxes of sidewalk chalks to the Special Education Division

Sidewalk chalk is a typically large coloured sticks of chalks mostly used for drawing on pavement or on concrete sideways. It is also used to create fun activities for children with special needs

Ms Achiaa said children with cerebral palsy can also grow to have a bright future and they must be encouraged in schools

Ms Belinda Bukari in charge of cerebral palsy at the Special Education Division who received the chalks expressed gratitude for the gesture calling on corporate organizations to support special education in Ghana

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project said her prayer is to see more children with cerebral palsy in schools especially the government schools.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pitying does not put food on the table

A special mention was given to a woman at a ceremony for the fact that she had two children with cerebral palsy, the person who did the mention said: “We can imagine that her life is much harder than anybody here”

She called the woman in front to give her a warm hug which attracted a paltry applause and then the woman went back to sit down.

My mind begun to wonder, recounting in my mind people who have more than one child with cerebral palsy. On top of my mind were two people, Nana Yaa, an industrious young lady with three children of which the first and the last both have cerebral palsy

And then Golda, a woman with four children all having special needs and some with multiple disabilities. I recalled how timid the latter had become because of her children and how she got to a point where she thought it was right to take her life and take the life of her children too.

She was fed up not with the daily handling of her children but the ridicule that society seems to place on her.

Meeting Golda for the first time, after her attempted suicide, I asked her why she had decide to give up after holding on for too long, amidst tears she said, “A woman insulted me that I have given birth to mad children, I just did not know how to respond.”

I looked intently into her eyes and said: “You should have responded with your mouth, it is not worth taking your life over that insult, next time when someone insult you like that respond with your mouth and make sure you make the person feel stupid.”

She looked up at me and smiled. Now I feel proud of who Golda has become, The Special Mothers Project with the support of the Presbyterian Inclusive Child Development Programme supported her to learn beading.

Golda is busily into bead making while doing other things to support her family and have a life. She is now very lively and beams with smiles whenever we meet.

She nearly lost her self esteem because of her children and how society treats her but for the intervention of the Special Mothers Project an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy in Ghana.

Usually when mothers of children with cerebral palsy are gathered, it is mostly about someone going to give them diapers, detergent and food. Many people who re-count experiences with mothers of children with cerebral palsy do not forget to say how difficult life is for such mothers.

I vividly recall on several occasions’ people speaking about such mothers with so much sympathy that words cannot describe, it is usually “Oh! Hmmm! These mothers go through a lot”

However, I have seen mothers of children with cerebral palsy who live a hearty and happy life, I have seen mothers of children with cerebral palsy who are lawyers, bankers, journalists, and diplomats just name it.

I have seen a mother who is a lawyer and uses her status to organize annual disability lectures where policy makers meet to help improve the laws in Ghana as it stands.

I remember when I started my advocacy and was all over the media a friend of mine told me: “Hannah do not do it to attract pity” there must be a solution.

In my mind I wanted to be part of the solution, a solution where Ghana understands the situation of children with disabilities and cerebral palsy specifically so that no school will turn away a child with cerebral palsy just for that reason

A solution where everybody understands that my child is only differently-abled and responds to her with love, a solution where society doesn’t make her feel that she does not belong or is not part of it.

A solution where I can drop off my child with cerebral palsy in an up to standard establishment to enable me work and earn a living. A solution where therapists understands that my other children, career and my husband equally needs me.

A solution where there are community establishment or even home services where an orthotics can come over to measure my child for  an Ankle Foots Orthotics Splints (AFOS) and deliver  at home  at  a reasonable fee.

A solution where more and more people begin to build their careers around caring for children with cerebral palsy such that it is possible to call an organization for a home service.

A solution where there are one stop shop establishment where a child can be educated, have therapy, have access to equipment and quality care

These solutions require an empowered parents of children with cerebral palsy, who are able to work and earn a living so that they can afford such services, from my experience in dealing with mothers many mothers have either become timid or passive.

These solutions requires government support and effort in ensuring that the state caters for children with disabilities according to their unique needs

Many mothers in talking about their children will usually say “They say” referring to a therapist or a supposed expert on their child’s condition, many rarely say “I think” for fear of being scolded. Many have developed low self esteem always placing the opinions of others above themselves.

Sometimes mothers are made to feel that it is their fault that their children are not doing well, perhaps they should be going to the hospital more, and they possibly should sleep in therapy rooms in the hospital that is the only time a mother is seen as “trying very hard for their children”.

I have decided not to put myself in a situation where I no longer have life apart from taking care of my daughter with cerebral palsy. 

Yes managing a child with cerebral palsy is tough, tough enough to make you lose your self esteem and livelihood but cerebral palsy is not the end of life and man must live and eat!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Health Sector must be involved in seeking CP solutions – Sagoe Moses

Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, National Child Health Coordinator of the Ghana Health Service has said there is the need for the health sector to be actively involved in seeking solutions to cerebral palsy issues.

She specifically mentioned the Community Health nurses who go out to provide community services to become the first professional contact with families raising children with cerebral palsy.

“The Community Health nurses go into homes, they could be the first health contact to point families to available services and support,”Dr Sagoe- Moses emphasized

She was among guest that graced a ceremony that exhibited Appropriate Paper-based Technology (APT) equipment at the Multikids Inclusive Academy in Accra

APT involves the use of various textures of paper to make a equipment that supports children with cerebral palsy, it  is used to make a variety of equipment that can be used to support daily activities such as eating and drinking, playing and exploring, communicating, going to school and learning all in good positions to help prevent deformities.

Cerebral Palsy Africa, an organization that works to improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy in Africa in collaboration with Multikids Inclusive Academy and Wings of support organized a two weeks training programme  in the making of APT equipment for some mothers of children with cerebral palsy, therapists and some students studying Community based rehabilitation and disability studies.

Mr Nathaniel Larbi Andah, a student from the University of Education, Winneba who participated in the training said he used to see paper as waste and marveled at how  paper could be  so useful in the making of APT equipment

He expressed his commitment to work with families raising children with cerebral palsy and use what he has learnt in the training to help such families.