November is National Disability Month and we have approximately 2.1 million children with disabilities, of which close to 600 000 children of school going age are out of school and thus being denied their right to a basic education.
“Children with disabilities in SA are faced with a crisis, a challenge which is becoming increasingly more serious while at the same time being grossly neglected. The scale of the problem is not documented well enough and hence not represented on a policy and services level,” says Therina Wentzel, National Director of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA).
The vast majority of children with disabilities are also poor with many not having access to essential health care and rehabilitation services and assistive devices
NCPPDSA is the national NGO for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with physical disabilities, and their research across 67 day care centres in South Africa shows the following:
- 8% of children with disabilities are older than the school going age of six years old, children that should be at school
- 40 of the 67 care centres surveyed are in rural towns, townships and communities where poverty is rife
- Only 61% of these centres are government-subsidised. Most day care centres are severely lacking in infrastructure, services and resources
- 39% receive no form of government support
- Government support to the 40 centres is a subsidy averaging a mere R353 per child per month
- With an average of 45 children per centre 32.8% of the centres operate on less than R10, 000 a month
- Only one of the 67 centres surveyed receives any support from the Department of Basic Education while the vast majority of children in the centres are of school-going age
- Only 50 of the 67 centres have paid staff members working directly with the children – the rest rely on volunteers
What is even more shocking is that these children have a lack of the most basic needs such as nappies, which are the most important incontinence management product for children with disabilities. Incontinence is associated with various types of disabilities and children with disabilities have a disproportionately high need for nappies and often up to an advanced age – into their teenage years and even into adulthood.
Childcare centres for children with disabilities are in desperate need of nappies and mainly dependent on fees paid by parents, public donations and fundraising drives and events.
On the 7th of November (National Children’s Day) the NCPPDSA will be hosting their annual Nappy Run event at the Johannesburg Zoo in a drive to collect as much funds to buy nappies for children with physical disabilities.
Through their efforts and campaigns like the Nappy Run, the NCPPDSA have raised approximately 500 000 nappies in the past four years for this worthy cause. Nappies and funds are distributed to daycare centers and impoverished communities for children with disabilities.
The target for 2015 is to raise at least 100 000 nappies and to encourage people from all walks of life to show their support at the Nappy Run event and play their part in raising much needed awareness.