Some concerned safety professionals and stakeholders in the education sector has called for increased awareness, education and enlightenment about children with Special needs.

This formed the major feature and panel discussion of the third edition of the School Safety Summit held last Saturday, June 1st at Avi Cenna International School, Lagos.

Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Femi Gbadebo, one of the keynote speakers at the event said that Parents of Children with Special Needs must accept that their child has a problem and must understand that the problem is not insurmountable.

“It is their failure to recognize or rather their focus on what the child cannot do, is their problem. The focus should be shifted to what the child can do.” He said.

In his own remarks, Hon. Akeem Dickson, the Director General of the Lagos State Safety Commission said that the summit is a unique one in the Safety industry because “we have to understand that we need something for those special children.”

According to him, “One way or the other we are all ” disabled.” Once you are taking any drug, you are disabled so you need special care. The point to mark there is; what are we doing for those special children? It’s not only by putting them in one school we refer to as special school, not even mixing them together with others. Even if we have to go the extra mile, what do we need to do to help them advance and be able to meet up with others. It is a mixture of psychology and techniques of how to be able to understand those special needs and what they stand for.”

The Convener of the event, Ugochi Obidiegwu also known as The Safety Chic, emphasized that the Safety Summit is a long term safety advocacy geared towards increasing safety consciousness in educators, school owners, parents and concerned citizens.

“This year we decided to bring the two topics together; School Safety and Special Needs, because there is a huge conversation now about inclusion in schools. It is a fantastic idea and it sounds amazing but, if people do not know the practical things they can put in place, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.”

“I noticed that we live in a world where, consciously or unconsciously, we’ve excluded those living with special needs, and there is no seperate world for those living with special needs. They are going to stay here with us. The best way to involve them in the society is by giving an education. This means they are going to go to schools. If they are going to schools and there are no safety systems, then it’s going to compound the problem.”

The Convener of the event, Ugochi Obidiegwu also known as The Safety Chic.

Also speaking as a panelist at the event was Barrister Taiwo Akinlabi who called on stakeholders to engage government on implementation of child related laws and policies. According to him, an event like this is an avenue to discuss the state of affairs of our children with the aim of calling attention to the loopholes in the law and should become an action plan for which we should hold people accountable.

Cross section of speakers, panelists and participants at the event.
Cross section of speakers, panelists and participants at the event.

One of the participants, Miss Efe Ogbukojo who is an headteacher expressed delight for the convener and knowledge shared at the event.

“We were advised and encouraged to give this special children good reception and not stigmatized them. So far, so good, I have learnt a lot and I believe my other colleagues have also learnt too. I believe when we get to our schools we will show them more love and care and make other children in the school also love them and relate with them based on their need.”, she said.

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