Sunday, January 26, 2020

Committee discusses penal action for parents of children with disabilities who neglect them

Members of the Technical Committee reviewing Ghana’s Disability Law are considering introducing penal actions to parents of children with disabilities who neglect their children by virtue of their disability

At the sixth Technical Committee meeting for the Review of Act 715, members of the committee were divided about the issue with some blaming parents who neglect their children with disabilities as irresponsible while others defended the parents saying there is no support system for them.

Mr Alexander Bakole Williams, representative of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (GFD) was of the opinion that no matter the lack of a supportive system and environment parents of children with disability had no excuse to for instance lock up their children in the rooms or hide the children by reason of their disability

Citing examples, he said: “I will not be able to leave my eight year old regular child all by herself for even one hour”, children with disabilities have rights which should be respected and parents who are found maltreating their children with disabilities should be severely punished.

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme for families raising children with disabilities, on the other hand said parents should not be blamed for maltreating their children with disabilities

“Usually, mothers are left alone to struggle and fend for their children with disabilities with no form of support from government or the societies, these parents especially mothers need to earn an income to be able to take care of these children.

Mrs Awadzi who is also a member of the Technical Committee urged the committee member to consider the mental health and the total wellbeing of the mother before thinking about any penal action for neglecting or maltreating their children with disabilities.

“A child with disability’s wellbeing is totally dependent on the mother’s wellbeing” she added

Ms Esther Akua Gyamfi, Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disability, said the new Disability Law is supposed to provide solutions to the already existing challenges faced by persons with disabilities.

“Under the new law we expect to have a good support system for parents who give birth to children with disabilities therefore we will not expect that any parents will lock their children up to go and work because the facilities will be there for them,” She added.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, last year, inaugurated a Technical Committee to review the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) and prepare an accompanying Legislative Instrument.

The Committee was constituted amidst demands from civil society to have a disability law that is of international standard and in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Epicentre establishes breakfast club for Special Needs Families

The Epicentre, a not for profit organization that provides education and therapy services for children with developmental delays has established a breakfast club as a way of bring families raising children with special needs together.

Mrs Joyce Ankrah, Executive Director of Epicentre told the Special Mothers Project that “I’ve been thinking of ways of bringing parents, staff and children together for a very long time. I realized parents are extremely busy and very rarely accompany their children to school.”

The Breakfast club meetings which is expected to be held every quarter or as and when parents demands will be informal and a day for interacting with staff, children and their siblings as well as for de-stressing.

Mrs Ankrah said the first of such meetings was held in December last year where families discussed the importance of having good breakfast.

She said the breakfast meetings will present parents the opportunity to have a good breakfast with their children especially those with developmental challenges eat healthily    

It will also improve social development, help staff get to know children better and afford  parents, carers, health professionals and the community an opportunity to interact more effectively.

Mrs Ankrah said the breakfast club is not limited to just parents of Epicentre but all families raising children with developmental challenges

The Special Mothers Project is an advocacy and awareness creation platform for families raising children with cerebral palsy and other special needs. The Project has established an online community of parents that share experiences, engage in peer counselling and provide professional psychosocial support for families. You can support us by donatinng to 0244547980

Friday, January 10, 2020

Six Children with Communication Challenges receive Assistive Devices

Six Families raising children with communication challenges have been trained on how to use an assistive device, Grid Pad, to enhance their children’s communication.

The families received a Grid Pad each from Smartbox Company, a UK based organization that designs assistive devices and software to help with communication challenges

The training provided by a team of Speech and Language Therapists from Columbia University in the United States of America with support from Ghana’s Special Education Division gave beneficiary families an opportunity to use the device with their children.

Mr Anthony Boateng, Deputy Director of the Ghana Education Service who received the devices from officials of Columbia University, handed the devices to Mrs Bernice Aduo Addae, Head of the Special Education Division to be given to the beneficiary families.

Mrs Addae, presenting the devices to the families, expressed happiness about the gesture, saying, “We are happy to be able to support some children with communication challenges, we pray for more of such support to enable more children benefit.”

The Special Education Boss, said the division welcomed any such support from organizations home and abroad to enable them equip and assist more children with Special Educational needs with assistive devices.

“We are also very happy that the Ghana Education Service has embraced most of the programmes that the Special Education Division intends to implement in schools throughout Ghana to ensure the proper implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy.

Professor Carol Hammer, a Speech and Language Therapist at Columbia University, who presented the devices, said, Ghana was selected to be a beneficiary of the programmes, after the Special Education Division applied for support.

She said the Columbia University was working with the Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service to ensure efficiency in the usage of the devices.

Ms Belinda Bukari, an official in charge of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the Special Education Service said there has been an earlier training held for teachers in the various unit schools of the GES.

The unit schools are designated classrooms attached to regular schools that attends to children with special educational needs.

She said all six beneficiaries of the Grid Pad device are children with special educational needs who have been mainstreamed.