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Children With Impairments Should Be Heard

By Steve Ephraem

A child can be described as a person who is below the age of eighteen. All things being equal, such a person is expected to be still under the guardianship of parents or relatives.

The issue of guardianship of the children is the one which lead to adults sometimes infringe the expressions of children. Many children’s rights end up not being respected.

World over, a child is expected to receive basic and quality education as well as adequate healthcare. Many other rights such as shelter, protection, food, health and many others also come into the scene.

In the month of June, Africa celebrates children’s rights. It has declared June 16 as Day of the African Child. Waal, what a consideration! But is this day enough for the children?

Taking into consideration that some African countries have set not only a day but whole month to celebrate women and culture, the issue of children might also need revision. A month-long celebration might be a welcome move.

Every child needs to be protected from all forms of hazards that could affect their mental, physical and emotional state. This could include protecting them from abuse and the environment that could endanger their lives.

Children in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts of Zimbabwe, some children became unstable owing to climate induced disasters such as tropical cyclones, droughts, earth tremors and floods.

People become emotionally instable if they keep disasters every year. Children who survive such disasters are traumatised for long periods.

A sad scenario is how children who survived Tropical Cyclone Idai of March 2019 in Chipinge and Chimanimani are seriously affected by such disasters. Most of them lost beloved one including siblings and parents or guardians.

Their situation is worsened by the fact that they couldn’t bury their beloved ones. Some of their relatives are still missing. To worsen the situation, some of the survivors are living with life-long injuries or became disabled. The rare rocks that came along with the cyclone floods brought permanent damage to the people and the environment.

When emergencies come like this, it is unfortunate that adults tend to speak on behalf of children. Isn’t it the time that people give children the platform to express themselves without much interference from adults? The world should relook at how adults are interfering with children’s freedom of expression.

Children need their inner hearts to be heard. If this is happening to all kids, how much does this attitude affect children with impairments?

Failure to champion the needs of children with impairments ends up with either the children underrating themselves or them being sidelined in activities that take place in schools where the young souls spend most of their time.

In addition to academic studies which they acquire in class, there are other out of class activities such as arts, sports and culture. How many schools incorporate children with impairments in arts, sports and culture?

Children with impairments should be let speak up their mind. They should write stories, recite poems, draw pictures, join dances groups and sports team freely without an extra clause being put on them. Those who lead such team should open the doors for children with impairments without discriminating them.