See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says
Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole
DA NANG - KYIV, 30 May 2013: Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities would create benefits for society as a whole, says the report released today.
"When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child has to offer," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society's loss; their gain is society's gain.”
The report lays out how societies can include children with disabilities recognizing that when they play a full part in society, everyone benefits. For instance, inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children, while creating opportunities for children with disabilities to develop to their maximum in their communities with their families.
The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities says that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school. They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or put in institutions due to social stigma or the economic cost for a family to raise them.
There is little accurate data on the number of children with disabilities, since in many countries their birth going unregistered. Lacking official recognition, they are cut off from the social services and legal protections that are crucial for their survival and development.
About one third of the world’s countries have so far failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report urges all governments to keep their promises to guarantee the equal rights of all their citizens – including their most excluded children.
Ukraine has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the Convention on the Rights of Children. Building on these positive developments, UNICEF calls Ukraine to ensure further inclusion of children with disabilities and their access to essential services in healthcare, schooling and social support for them and their families.
Over 8 million children live in Ukraine, of whom more than 165,000 are children with disabilities.
“Children with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable child groups in Ukraine. It is extremely important for children to receive proper diagnosis and comprehensive development support with the family from the time of their birth. This is the first step in preventing separation of children from their families and putting them in the institution,"- said UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Yukie Mokuo. “Investments in the early stages provide greater “savings” in the future. Children who receive early detection and treatment often thrive and become more active members of society”, - she added.
The State of the World’s Children 2013 report emphasizes the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them.
Everyone benefits when inclusive approaches include accessibility and universal design of environments to be used by all to the greatest extent possible without any need for adaptation.
"The path ahead is challenging," said Mr. Lake in Da Nang, Viet Nam, for the launch of the report today. "But children do not accept unnecessary limits. Neither should we."
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