The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Sunday said plans are underway to establish an Early Intervention Centre in 2018 to provide therapy and educational support services for infants and young children with special needs.
The centre, according to the Governor, will enable the State Government equip such children with necessary skills and help develop their potential, thereby overcoming identified developmental delays as far as possible.
Speaking at a programme put together by the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Persons Living With Disabilities, held at Adeyemi Bero Auditorium in Alausa, the Governor also assured that more people with disability would be employed into the State civil service in 2018.
He said: “Our administration is making plans to establish an Early Intervention Centre for the provision of therapy and educational support services for infants and young children with special needs. This will enable us equip these children with necessary skills and help develop their potential, thereby overcoming identified developmental delays as far as possible.”
While urging Nigerians to always embrace people in such situation and look out for their welfare, Governor Ambode said it was important for the general public to refrain from looking down on them but rather look out for their good qualities.
According to him: “I urge the general public to always embrace People Living With Disabilities and always look out for the good qualities God has deposited in them.”
The Governor, who recalled his promise to deliver an all-inclusive government in which no one would be left behind, said the event was another opportunity to reaffirm the policy stance of his administration, just as he assured that the welfare and well-being of PLWDs would always be a priority.
He said the theme of this year’s celebration – “Transformation Towards Sustainable And Resilient Society For All” was apt and in tandem with his vision which is to enable people with disability become active contributors in the society.
He said: “As a government, it is very critical to us to ensure the effective integration of people living with disabilities, especially in today’s changing world.
“For us in Lagos State, we see ability in disability always. We believe strongly that the socio-economic integration of persons with disabilities is not only a human right but also a prerequisite for sustainable development. Our experience has shown that when people with disabilities are adequately empowered to participate in and lead the process of development, their entire families, communities and even the larger society will benefit.
“As a result, we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure a more comfortable socio-economic status for these members of our community by providing them with various opportunities.”
While reeling out some of the interventions of his administration, the Governor said a total of 250 PLWDs were recently employed into the State’s Civil Service, Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas, while more of such people would be employed next year.
Similarly, 500 persons have also benefitted from the State Government’s special empowerment programme drawn from the N500million Special People’s Fund established by the Ambode administration, while various assistive technologies, mobility aids and financial grants were given to 2,000 persons living with disabilities and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) involved in taking care of such categories of people.
“As a government, we will continue to embark on initiatives to improve the quality of lives of our people. We will always work to develop the productive capacity of persons with disabilities and give them opportunities to play a role in socio-economic growth of our State,” he said.
Restating the fact that there is ability in every disability, the Governor charged PLWDs not to allow any circumstance limit their progress and life aspirations, adding that they must strive to achieve the best in everything and command respect from people in the society.
In his lecture at the event, President of Benola Cerebral Palsy Foundation, AVM Femi Gbadebo commended Governor Ambode for his numerous initiatives geared toward upholding the rights and welfare of PLWDs such as N500million Disability Fund and various empowerment programmes.
Also, Chairperson of Lagos State Chapter of Joint National Association of Persons With Disability, Deaconess Beyioku Adedoyin and Dr Adebayo Adebukola of Human and Organizational Resources Development Centre commended the State Government for prioritizing the welfare of PLWDs, saying that the State had become a reference point for positively handling disability affairs and development.
At the event, awards were given to various caregivers and NGOs involved in disability affairs, while there were also performances by groups of disabled people including Divine Melody Makers Band, Down Syndrome Society and Wesley School for the Deaf and Hearing Impairment.