Written by Annette Apitz, UNICEF USA.
Last week UNICEF launched its annual State of the World’s Children report. This year, the report is focusing on children with disabilities. It calls on the world to change attitudes and include children with disabilities in all areas of society.
In Zimbabwe, 17-year-old Munashe writes with his feet. Unable to use his hands because of a disability, he is taking final exams in mathematics at the King George IV School of the Disabled. Munashe wants to be an accountant.
Thirteen-year-old Uyanga was born learning disabled. Today, she attends a UNICEF-supported center that teaches children with disabilities new skills in an inclusive and supportive environment. Uyanga is learning to hold a pen and is working on her speech.
All children, including children with disabilities, have the right to learn, to play, to reach their dreams. But sadly, Uyanga and Munashe are more exception than the rule.
Children with disabilities are among the most deprived and marginalized children in the world. They are the least likely to go to school, and are most vulnerable to neglect and abuse. They are targets of discrimination, exclusion and stigmatization. Girls, especially, are frequently malnourished, and are subject to forced sterilization. Worst of all, children with disabilities are too often invisible—ignored by governments and communities.
Right now, there are 93 million children living with disabilities—many of whom are discriminated against, excluded, and, in effect, made invisible.
UNICEF is working to bring these children back from the margins of society by removing barriers to their participation and by including them in all of its programs. When we give all children the right to reach their full potential, society is enriched as a whole.
Here is what you can do to help give children with disabilities a chance to make their dreams a reality.
- Personal action matters: Pledge to see the child, not the disability, and share the SOWC report.
- Advocate: Urge lawmakers to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- Donate: Give to “Lucy’s Fund for Kids with Disabilities,” a fund started by 14-year-old Lucy Meyer to support UNICEF programs for children with disabilities.
This post was originally published by UNICEF.
Photo: Rahmatuallah, 14, writes on a white board during a workshop for electricians at a UNICEF-assisted reintegration and rehabilitation center in Kandahar. © UNICEF/AFGA2007-00420/Noorani