Every Child Matters: Making a Commitment for Children with Special Needs
IPOH, 4 June 2014 – The National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) and UNICEF Malaysia today called for a concerted collaborative commitment to create inclusive spaces for children with disabilities, especially in education.
This call was made during the opening ceremony of the 5th NECIC Conference that is being held in Ulu Kinta, Perak from 4 – 7th June 2014. The ceremony was graced by Ms. Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia as well as Dato’ Dr. Amar Singh and Dr. Woan Yiing Wong, President and Secretary of the NECIC respectively.
According to Dato’ Dr. Amar, the bi-annual conference is aimed at linking professionals from health, education and social welfare with parents, policy makers, and non-governmental organisations.
“Our focus is to empower more families with children with disabilities to take up an advocacy role. In this conference, we have more than 30 family members who will be sharing success and struggles, and more than 60 experts speaking on issues related to children with special needs. There will be opportunities to dialogue with and influence policy makers. We want families, professionals, civil society and policy makers to know there are no limits to what we can do for children with disabilities and their families. As we move forward, we must address these challenges vigorously in a strong partnership with parents, practitioners and policy makers.”
Early childhood intervention is vital for the development of children with special needs as early experiences will shape lives and lay the foundation for future years. The early years are also critical for the whole family as this is when the families can best begin to learn how to support and nurture their child, how to meet their child's needs, and how to adapt positively to having a child with a disability or a developmental delay.
Creating inclusive societies
In her opening address, Ms. Wivina Belmonte said it was a tragic irony that children who are so often teased and bullied because of their disability, are too often invisible when it comes to policies, services and compassion.
“Realising the rights of children with disabilities begins with creating an inclusive society. We are guided to do that by the principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), both of which Malaysia has ratified. To better serve children with disabilities, we need to know who they are, where they are, what their needs and aspirations are and how their abilities can best be nurtured right from the very beginning, in their early years.”
This year, the theme for the 5th NECIC Conference is “Passions Has No Parameters”. The 4-day conference brings together almost 1,000 participants working together to uphold the rights of children with disabilities in an inclusive society that accepts and welcomes them.
During the opening ceremony, Dato’ Dr. Amar called on participants to uphold the right of all children with disabilities to an education that is directed to the development of the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities.
Equality of opportunity
“In addition to the CRC, we must work towards achieving the UNESCAP Biwako Millennium Framework for Action target that states that all infants and young children up to 4 years of age will have access to and receive community-based early intervention services by 2012. We also need to keep our focus on the Memorandum on Early Childhood Intervention adopted by delegates to the first NECIC in 2006 which calls on families as vital partners and caregivers for what works for their child,” added Dr. Amar.
At the closing of her address. Ms. Belmonte commended efforts by Government and civil society to shape policies and provide services for children with disabilities, especially the dedicated work of the NECIC.
“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the CRC in November this year, we have much to celebrate but also much to remind ourselves that our work for children is far from over. One of our focus areas for children is equality of opportunity. Research shows that inclusive education is a win-win for all students. It helps to change discriminatory attitudes, create welcoming communities and develop inclusive societies.”
“To this end, UNICEF will continue to advocate tirelessly and, yes, passionately on improving the wellbeing of children with disabilities,” concluded Ms. Belmonte...............................................................................................
NOTE TO EDITOR:
Supporting Events at 5th NECIC Conference:
2. Mr Lin Chao- Chen a parent from Taiwan will be sharing his heart-warming testimony on “Parental Acceptance of Disability” at Elim Chinese Church Hall, Jalan Chung Thye Ping, Ipoh on 4 June 2014, 8 pm – 10 pm.
3. Ms Francesca Bierens and Ms Erica Lovel will be sharing on “Finding Hope Amidst Disability” at the Auditorium, Ambulatory Care Center, Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh on 4 June 2014, 8 pm – 10 pm.
About the NECIC:
For more information, please contact:
Indra Kumari Nadchatram
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Dr Woan Yiing Wong