Meeting Joy: A Community Supporting Children with Disabilities
Joy is a 9-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. This condition means that his brain doesn’t communicate well with the muscles in his body, causing hard to control spasms and other movements.
When I first met Joy, he was sitting on a chair and laughing. His mother welcomed us under the tree where she laid a large blanket on the floor and Joy sat shaded under the tree. With his arms moving rapidly, it was clear to see that he was excited to see us.
I am visiting this project to learn about the way children like Joy are being supported by Centre for Disability in Development (CDD). As Joy continued to laugh, I spoke with his mother to learn about Joy’s condition and how his life was slowly and surely improving for the better.
First, I learned that a physiotherapist was visiting her home frequently to teach and coach her through exercises and massages that she could use with Joy. These specific exercises would ensure that Joy grows up having his bones and muscles better aligned.
Second, I learned that this chair was designed specifically for Joy. The chair is meant to stabilize his head and keep his limbs straight while they are in the chair.
The mother picks Joy out of the chair and puts him in her lap. She slowly starts to slowly roll his ankles and continues to share Joy’s story. I learned that despite the difficulties Joy faces, there is acceptance from the other children. I learned that Joy’s mother hopes that one day Joy can be independent and continue to go to school with the other kids.
Similar to Joy’s story, we visit the family of another young boy who has trouble with walking. His legs are weak and not straight, which makes it difficult for him to walk on his own. The Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) provided him with an assisstive device that helps him walk on his own. The family was guided to help attach leg braces that support his alignment and stability.
Education for All
As we move away from the village and back towards the city, we stop at a school. This school, like many other schools we have driven by, is made of concrete and in the centre has a field for the children to play. When we arrive all the children are running around, they are deep into their play and at first, don’t even notice us arriving.
It only took one child to point to us, then immediately all the children are curious to see why we are here. They are now running in circles around me and I slowly make my way to the director’s office.
When I meet with the director, his eyes are soft with compassion. He explains that there are 3 students in his school with disabilities. He says, “No one should be excluded from the chance to study.”
As the director said, I also believe that no child should be excluded from education. Every child should have the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe environment with other children.