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India’s children with disabilities call for inclusive development

Dec 04, 2012

To commemorate World Disability Day, more than 150 children with disabilities (CWDs) from across India gathered in New Delhi to voice their fears, hopes and expectations from the future.

World Vision India organised India’s first ever ‘National Assembly of Children with Disabilities’ in New Delhi to provide a platform to the CWDs where they could voice their demands of accessible environment, health services, education and child rights. Till now, the organisation has completed eight state assemblies of children with disabilities.

Disability is an area that is largely ignored in India and lack of proper government policies make everyday lives quite uncomfortable and hostile for people with disabilitis. Children with disabilities are especially vulnerable as they get exposed to emotional upheavals owing to rejection by society and indifference. Add to this lack of infrastructure for the disabled and inadequate number of schools who are equipped to educate CWDs. Through this conference, World Vision India, not only looked at sensitisation but also put forward the issues these children face.

“I got an opportunity to participate in a program –Our Voice – assembly of children with disabilities. During the assembly, many other children like me came and shared their thoughts. It gave me confidence and motivated me to think that I can do what others can. After that, I attended a residential training on Malaria and helped spread awareness in our community,” said Amar Thakur, a differently-abled, who lives in one of the slums in Kolkata. The children at the conference put forward issues like acces to Angawadi Centres to access to healthcare within three kilometres and being accepted on par with other children.

Oscar Fernandes, an Indian politician said that: “Disabled people work more efficiently as compared to anyone else. They can cater to any responsibility given to them.”

After listening to the disabled children, Prof. Shantha Sinha, Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said: “You have made me to realise that a lot of work needs to be done. Now, it’s an obligation of the government that every child gets education without any discrimination. There is deficit in our system and with your voice we will build the capacity of the system.”

Jayakumar Christian of World Vision thanked the government for realising disability as a development issue and articulated for the need of every child to feel empowered enough to shape the nation, disabilities not beinga  criteria for that.

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