Inclusiveness: The best therapy for a child with cerebral palsy

A GNA Feature by Hannah Awadzi, GNA

Accra, Sept. 24, GNA – I had an insightful
conversation with a family that has, raised a 28-year old boy with cerebral
palsy.  As a way of giving back to
society the family has decided to be fully committed to advocacy issues on
cerebral palsy

They had come to see me to discuss possible
advocacy issues – sharing the journey of their son with me. The sister of this
young man said something that I could not stop pondering over.

Alberta, a senior sister to Nii, the young man
living with cerebral palsy said: “I think inclusiveness is the best therapy we
can give to children with cerebral palsy.”

Alberta explained : “We lived in a house with
our uncles, aunties and cousins, there were a lot of children around, my
brother Nii played with us, he was challenged to do things for himself, we had
one cousin who was always running, he was also a boy, Nii wanted to play with
him, so he forced himself to run, when we were young, you will always see him
(Nii) with bruises around the mouth, he fell many times but I guess that is
what challenged him to do things for himself.”

Ghana is currently talking inclusive education
– a system of education where all students regardless of their needs are
welcomed by their neighbourhood schools in age-appropriate regular classes and
supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of
the school.

Inclusive education is about how we develop
and design our schools, classrooms, programmes and activities so that all
students learn and participate together.

Experts in education speak about the enormous
benefits of inclusive education – the ability to develop the individual
strengths and gifts, involvement of parents in the education of their children,
fostering a school culture of respect and belonging and the opportunity to
learn about and accept individual differences, lessening the impact of harassment
and bullying.

Inclusive education has the potential to
positively affect both the school and the community, to appreciate diversity
and inclusion.

In Ghana, many teachers continue to wonder if
it could be possible to fully implement inclusive education. There are some who
think that children with special needs, especially those with disabilities
should be separated since they have a tendency of slowing the academic work and
pulling back the regular ones.

Many parents of children with cerebral palsy,
however, are thinking differently and have been calling for inclusive

One of them has this to say, “I do not expect
my child with cerebral palsy to score 100 per cent, I just want a social life
for my child, I know my child is intelligent and will excel at his own pace.”

Another added, “My child with cerebral palsy
lives together in the house with her other siblings, they play with her, they
heckle her and they treat her as their sibling, I see that my daughter has
really improved in terms of her responses because of her siblings.

She said, children with cerebral palsy,
especially, need to be in mainstream school. They have movement issues but most
of the time, their brain is intact, they can learn.

Inclusive education is possible, it is the
willingness of the school and staff to accept children with cerebral palsy that
is left, said one other parent.


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