At AbleChildAfrica, we work with children, who as a result of the stigma towards disability in their communities, and sometimes in the home, face incredibly challenging situations at a young age.
However time and time again, our team hear how these children overcome the incredible barriers put in their way. But despite the treatment they receive, they speak up and demand their rights. This is why children’s ideas and actions are at the heart of our projects. It is also why “Giving disabled children the tools to take charge of their own future” is one of our six values.
At AbleChildAfrica we get to see and hear first-hand stories of how the children we work with are bringing about change – from how their teachers teach, to how communities see them as disabled. There are two stories that I would like to share:
As part the project “Denied Access: supporting excluded disabled children into Government Primary Schools” with our partners Little Rock (and supported by Jersey Overseas Aid), AbleChildAfrica delivered an Inclusive Education workshop for headteachers and officials in Kenya earlier this year.
To ensure children’s voices were heard, children from Little Rock attended the workshop. The star of the day was 8 year old Joyce* who has cerebral palsy and was not put off by the room of strangers speaking confidently about the discrimination she had faced. Speaking in fluent English she stunned the room of headteachers and government officials, as she argued why she has the right to attend mainstream primary schools with her sister and peers. Three months later, Joyce enrolled in primary school, and the headteachers she spoke with have opened their doors to disabled children.
In Northern Uganda, AbleChildAfrica and USDC have been running the project “Promoting Inclusive Education for Disabled Children using a Child to Child Approach” since 2013, with a recent roll out extension with support from Comic Relief until 2021. This project from the outset puts children in the driving seat to help get their peers into school.
As part of school family initiatives, primary school children work together tackle the challenges they face through child to child activities. In class children also learn about disability and how to make sure their disabled peers are included. Children have played a key role in identifying disabled peers in their villages who are not coming to school, as one boy explained ““They can do the same as us, they are our friends so we want them in school” . The teachers, parent support group and USDC team are able to follow up to support the children identified into school. Since 2013 this approach has resulted in 416 additional disabled children enrolled in government primary’s schools alongside their peers.
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*name changed for child protection purposes