The Mayor of Accra, Hon. Mohammed Adjei Sowah has called on society to pay more attention to people with intellectual disability since they have potential that needs to be nurtured.
According to him, people with intellectual disabilities need support to attain their goals and nurture their God given talents in order to be beneficial to society.
“People with intellectual disability equally have God given talents and can become responsible citizens in society when given equal opportunities," he said.
The Mayor was speaking at the Graduation and Family Day ceremony of Haven International Centre for Special Education in Lashibi a suburb of Accra under the theme: "Moving Forward".
Mayor Sowah reiterated that his passion towards people with disability motivated him to partner Haven International who brought professionals from America to train care givers and parents of children with intellectual disability here in Accra, to enable them give the best care to the children.
He indicated that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) recently provided support for 130 physically challenged persons under the Disability Fund adding that efforts by the Assembly and some benevolent individuals like himself were not enough to bridge the gap.
He urged citizens to stop stigmatizing and discriminating against children with disabilities in order to promote inclusive education.
Mr. Michael Langmer, Coordinator for Special Education Unit, Tema Metro is a speech urged parents not to keep children with such disabilities in rooms and secret locations but “move with these children and give them the best of education."
He cited personalities such as Stevie Wonder a famous keyboardist, Franklin D. Roosevelt, a former President of America as some famous individuals with intellectual disability who have nurtured their God given talents to benefit society.
Madam Jennifer Brock, Director of the school, revealed that the aim of the centre was to provide a multiplicity of services including speech therapy, occupational therapy, vocational skills training and literacy skills training, to persons with intellectual disabilities adding that teachers at the school are trained to provide all types of therapy that the children required.
“We also provide training in biomedical issues and have a developmental paediatrician who examine the children and provide special supplements,” she said.
She disclosed that the school runs courses in advance vocational skills training and intermediary training as well as a study abroad program where professors came every year to work with teachers to give the children the upmost care.
She announced that Haven International would in the near future construct a multi-purpose complex which would house a medical facility, boarding facility to cater for all the needs of children on the autism spectrum, adding that the schools would soon "begin an after school program where children would be introduced to music classes, cultural drumming as well as dancing.
"We want to teach them cooking skills and life skills so that when they grow up and their parents are no longer there, they will be able to live in the community without being dependent on anybody,” she said.
Professors Jerry Petroff and Michelle Naples from the College of New Jersey in America were the special guest of honour for the occasion.
Haven International Centre for Special Education was formed in 2011, with a vision to create a self-sustaining special education centre in Ghana, and ultimately in Western Sub-Saharan Africa, where Autism is diagnosed and treated.