Integration of disabled kids sought

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At least 3.3 million Filipino children with disabilities are the most vulnerable to abuses and are more likely to be denied access to education and health care, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said Monday.

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“Local estimates suggest that 3,305,722 or 8.1 percent of all children 0-18 years old in the Philippines are living with disabilities, but the numbers could be even higher. They are often likely to be among the poorest members of the population. They are less likely to attend school, access medical services, or have their voices heard in society. Their disabilities also place them at a higher risk of physical abuse, and often exclude them from receiving proper nutrition or humanitarian assistance in emergencies,” Julia Rees, Unicef Deputy Country Representative, said.

“The result is that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded groups in society. More efforts to support integration of children with disabilities are needed to tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society,” Rees added.

Rees and Vice President Leni Robredo attended the photo exhibit titled “See What I Can Do” organized by Unicef, the Camera Club of the Philippines and SM that seeks to raise awareness and create an inclusive environment wherein the abilities of children with disabilities are highlighted.

Robredo called for a more inclusive environment for children with disabilities.

She cited the cases of Tom Cruise, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, former US President George Washington, poet Helen Keller, Beethoven, and Stephen Hawking who had either learning or physical difficulties but did great things for humanity.

“If we design communities with those who have special needs in mind, I am positive that everyone will benefit, and we would be literally reshaping our world to become a better one,” the Vice President said.

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