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Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) is championing inclusivity in upbringing of children living with disabilities through disability awareness training at iHELP centres in Kakamega County.  On 7th June, 2022, the iHELP project Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Rose Opiyo, who is also a Senior Lecturer at MMUST, conducted a disability awareness training at Cardinal Centre in Idakho Central. The training was aimed at sensitizing the community, caregivers and mothers on the importance of inclusivity in raising Children Living with Disabilities.

Dr. Opiyo stated that courtesy of this project, five children living with disabilities have received support from various donors. “I am delighted to witness the tremendous growth this Centre is undergoing. It has become a conduit through which the lives of our children are being transformed. I am happy to report that three children living with disabilities from this Centre have been enrolled at Daisy Special School and two others have received disability kits from Ms. Lucy Chogo, who is an aspiring Member of the County Assembly of the region.

ihel2PI Dr. Rose Opiyo making a point during the training.

The event’s keynote speaker who is a special needs expert, Dr. Elizabeth Mabele, took the participants through an extensive presentation on various aspects related to disabilities. She urged mothers not to hide away their children living with disabilities noting that through inclusivity, these children are bound to find the necessary support.

“Disability is not tied to a specific cause; I would like to encourage you to avoid stress and anxiety, putting on tight clothes and use of drugs during pregnancies. Ensure that you attend clinic checkups and give birth in health facilities for early assessment of your children by experts,” encouraged Dr. Mabele.

One of the project beneficiaries, Ms. Angeline Muhanji, who is a grandmother to one of the children living with the disabilities at the Centre attested to the great impact the Centre has had in transforming the life of her grandson. She stated that this project has acted as an eye opener to her.

“Before the establishment of this Centre, I did not know what to do with my grandson or where and how I would educate him. Through this project, I have been empowered to deal with such cases. I want to thank the initiator of this project, Dr. Rose Opiyo, for endeavoring to empower this community and ensure children living with disabilities get equal opportunities. My grandson has received sponsorship from Daisy Special School and I am glad he is doing well,” added Ms. Muhanji.

ihel3Children at the event.

Clearly, early intervention in special education can improve developmental trajectories for children living with disabilities. It helps improve outcomes concerning health, language, cognitive, social and emotional development. All children need love, encouragement and support, and for those living with disabilities, such positive reinforcement ensures that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence and determination.

By Linet Owuor

Photos by Wilberforce Shiundu