The Day of the African Child (DAC) is commemorated every year on the 16th of June by member sates of the African Union (AU) . It is done in memory of hundreds of innocent South African children that were massacared on the 16th 0f June, 1976 by the then South african police. The children were killed in the cause of their revolt against the then apartheid system in South Africa.
The Child-To-Child Network, a non-governmwntal organization, with UNICEF, yearly organize a programme to mark this event. This year, the focus was on children with disabilities, those whose voices are often not heard. The organization had writen to us at the CpCenter to be part of the programme, the children (did I add with disabilities) are supposed to produce art works for the day. The theme is “the sky is the limit….disability is no excuse”. The children are suposed to artistically express their understanding of this theme.
When I saw the letter, I said nothing for I knew that the chidren in the center are not capable of participating in the project. Later, a representative of the organization came to see what the children had done. I told him that much as I would want to bring out the artists in my children, none of the children in the center presently can perform that task; picking up brushes and painting, (wish they could though). He probably thought I did not want to be a part of their program, for a few days later, two men from the organization came. They introduced themselves and said that they have come to prevail on me to allow the children to take part in the program. They said they are artists, so they could assist the children. I invited them to the therapy room, I asked them if they know Cerebral Palsy. One said he has a child with Downs syndrom so he knows that children with disabilities could be talented. That’s good, I very much agree with you, but have you seen a child that has Cp? Not really. Then you are looking at Cp in its different forms or is it toppings. At the end of your visit, you can decide which of the children you want to start now to build h/her career as an artist, one who will likely give Micheal Angelo a run for his money.
They sat down, watching us do what we do (remember we do not work) once in while ask some questions. We talked on issues of disabilities, those working with children with disabilities, those who claim to be working with them, those who exploit us parents in the name of providing therapies, meanwhile, time passed. They said they had to go for they needed to visit other schools/centers. Hm… madam, declared the man whose child has DS, Cp is a different ball game! I think DS is better. I smiled, I do not know which is better, but Ido know that each is different from the other, and it may not be easy to start building the career of a child with Cp as an artist at age five or six. The child at this age may yet be battling with learning to hold her head up like Ziim or sitting unsupported to be able to pick up the painting brush and that is of course if h/her spastic or athetoid hands are unfisted at this age. Note that one of their main issues is balance and coordination. He understands clearly or is it clearer.
Friday morning, the national coordinator sent a text to me, to come and give a talk at the event as a special guest. I wondered at the word “special”. Ok, it is sticking, special mother of a special child, special guest at an event for special children, fine, hard to resist. Short notice but could not say no.
So it was that Ziim and I went to the event. I got to be invited to sit with the representative of the deputy governor of Lagos state, the UNICEF representative. Please do not ask me what I talked about but I did something I was happy about. I got to give out the CpCenter proposal on introduction of Conductive Education (yes I had copies with me. Thanks to my friend Ng who adviced me to take the letters as I never know who I’ll meet) You never know, something may just come out of it. I have their numbers and will call and make appointment to see them next week. Nothing ventured nothing gained they say, who knows, they may just help the African children with Cp have their dreams fulfilled, hm.. just like the cries of people after the children of South Africa were masacared helped to bring freedom and democraticgovernment to their people. Long (healthly) live the African child!!