Special Olympics of Malawi (SOM) has appealed to government and its cooperating partners to contribute towards efforts to improve the welfare and sporting activities targeting children with intellectual disabilities and special needs in Malawi.
SOM board chairperson Leonard Nkosi made the appeal at Bunda Primary School in Lilongwe on Saturday during activities to commemorate the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day.
The day is commemorated in memory of Eunice Kennedy Shriver who is the founder of the Special Olympics movement and a leading international advocate for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities.
Said Nkosi: “Of the total population, three percent are children with intellectual disabilities and special needs representing about 500 000 children with intellectual disabilities. Now you can see. SOM started in three districts and now we are in 20 districts, but only reaching at least 13 000 children and young people with intellectual disabilities.”
He said the organisation intends to increase the number of district of coverage; hence, the appeal to government and its development partners to support their initiatives.
Nkosi disclosed that majority of Malawians remain ignorant about the rights of children with intellectual disabilities and special needs inspite of various efforts to raise awareness about the issue.
“We’ve come up with a number of programmes to raise awareness about the rights of children with intellectual disabilities. Hence, we wish to call upon people of goodwill and organisations to chip in and donate in cash or kind towards this cause,” he said.
He commended Lions Clubs International, which he said has consistently provided financial support to the local Olympics organisation.
Lions International 412 second vice-district governor Chisomo Gunda said her organisation remains committed to contributing to the welfare of children with intellectual disabilities.
This year’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day was held under the theme: ‘Change the Game’, with a global call challenging everyone to endeavour to commit towards the welfare of children with intellectual disabilities.
It is estimated that nearly 200 million people with intellectual disabilities worldwide live with diminished opportunities and social disrespect, and are often neglected and hidden away.
In Malawi, the day was spiced with unified sports activities, including football, netball and athletics involving people without intellectual disabilities as part of raising awareness about the rights of children with intellectual disabilities. n