By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- AS Nigeria joins the world to mark the 2019 Children’s Day on May 27, the Convener of the Engraced Ones Prayer Support and Advocacy Initiative, EOPSAI, Biboara Yinkere, has advocated proper focus on children with special needs in the country.
Yinkere made the call at the organisation’s second annual Children’s Day celebration with theme, ‘Inclusion: The Crave of the Special Need Child’ with children and parents from different schools within and outside the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where she said the government ought to collaborate with nongovernmental organizations to aggressively enlighten families and individuals across the country on the need to accept and cater for children with special needs.
She also stated that EOPSAI has been involved in the campaign and sensitization on accepting children with special needs, and will step it up to cover more areas. Some of the services carried out by the group include prayer and counseling, parents support network, training for parents and caregivers, educational and vocational trainings, community based health insurance packages, and youth advocacy.
According to her EOPSAI is a support group for parents, caregivers and lovers of children living with special needs including autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, visual impairment and hearing disabilities, and others.
She said: “The Engraced Ones Prayer Support and Advocacy Initiative is a Support Group for parents, caregivers and lovers of children living with special needs. Our scope covers all areas of special needs since the emotional needs of the parents are related and the issues of discrimination are basically the same.
“We want the government to lend its voice to our advocacy to make people understand and accept our children. I also want the government to provide free medical and qualitative special and inclusive education for our children as is being done in other countries.
“We sensitise all classes of people including those at the grassroots on the conditions of children in order to demystify the concept of special needs.
“We are advocating for policy change in the areas of health care, education and others. We believe children and young people living with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, visual impairment, epilepsy, dyslexia, and others. We believe they should be accepted, cared for, educated and not stigmatized.
“We hinge our operations on the threefold cord of Prayer, Sensitization and Advocacy. We believe in strengthening the parents as primary caregivers through trainings and empowerment programmes.”
She however solicited for the help of experts, medical personnel, educators, ICT experts, and others to help the group by achieving the goal of societal inclusion and acceptance of children living with special needs including the support from financiers and partners.