SAN seeks more resources for children with special needs

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Chief Anthony Idigbe, has urged the government at all levels to commit more resources to caring for children with special needs.

Idigbe, the Senior Partner at Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors, made the call during the second edition of the Punuka Foundation Walk for Super Special Children, an initiative of the law firm’s not-for-profit arm, Punuka Foundation.

The Foundation, which runs a childcare centre in Lagos, was established to pursue the objective of helping the needy.

It focuses on people with developmental needs such as autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, and related conditions.

Idigbe said: “There’s a lot the government can do in terms of policy. I think more resources should be committed to taking care of children with special needs.

“Our Childcare Centre could be a centre of excellence where scientific research can be conducted.

“An organisation in Canada that we’re associated with tries to identify the level of intelligence of these kids.

“They found out that some kids may be challenged, but can communicate with the eyes. So a computer was designed to enable them to write through eye signals.

“There are lots of things we can do in Nigeria as well, so we hope to partner with the government on some of these research activities.

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“We believe in early intervention and identifying children with needs in the general schools. It means improving the skills of the teachers.

“Part of our work is empowering teachers on how they can identify children with special needs and how they can intervene very early.

“A lot of kids not doing well in general schools could be because they have eye problems. A test can reveal that glasses could simply solve the problem.

“So, there is a lot we can do with the government in terms of policy and training, in addition to the services we offer at our special centre.”
One of the foundation’s objectives, noted the SAN, is to impact society generally across the entire country.

“We’ll partner with different states for impact. We want to invest in the human infrastructure in Nigeria.

“The walk is to create awareness and draw attention to the challenges faced by children with special needs, and the need for our society – the government and foundations such as ours – to continue to provide for their needs and do more.

“It’s also an opportunity to draw attention to the work that we at Punuka Foundation are doing, such as the Childcare Centre and the Youth Centre that we established,” Idigbe added.

Executive Secretary and Trustee of Punuka Foundation, Mrs. Elizbeth Idigbe, said the childcare centre is equipped with modern facilities, sensory-motor tools and other learning aids, as well as the right mix of therapists (occupational, behavioural, language/speech), assessors and resident nurses to ensure the actualisation of the developmental goals of the super special children.

“The foundation is focused on helping children who have developmental needs. Of course, we also offer support to the underprivileged in our society.

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“The centre offers full therapy – the children need to maximise their potential. They can only do that with the help of experts, and that is where the Punuka Foundation comes in. These children should not be left behind.

“If we receive more support, we can take in more children and employ more experts, because feeding them and paying the therapists are not cheap at all,” Mrs Idigbe said.

On how people can support, she added: “Aside from donations, organisations or individuals can take up responsibility for a child on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis.”

A partner at Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors, Mr Nnamdi Oragwu, urged well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to support the work of the foundation.

“It’s a laudable initiative which requires the support of well-meaning Nigerians.

“We have various platforms for donations and support, so any contribution is welcome,” he said.

At the fun-filled walk were many children with special needs, members of the law firm, staff members of the foundation and childcare centre, sponsors and many dignitaries from all walks of life.

Dressed in white T-shirts emblazoned with “Walk for Special Children,” they danced as they walked from Lekki Phase 1 through Admiralty Way to Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors office at Oyibo Adjarho Street in Lekki Phase 1.

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