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HomeFEATURED ARTICLEWE RING THE BELL amplifies sound education and inclusion of youngsters with...

WE RING THE BELL amplifies sound education and inclusion of youngsters with disabilities

We Ring the Bell is an annual advocacy campaign initiated by the Liliane Foundation (LF) Netherlands in 2015.  Liliane Foundation is an organization that supports children and youngsters with disability from 0 – 25 years through their Strategic Partner Organization (SPO) among which is the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Province of Nigeria.  The advocacy campaign came about when the target of the year 2000 to 2015 Millennium Development Goals failed to achieve its goals.  The members of the United Nations converged again in 2015 and came up with eight (8) Sustainable Development Goals which was meant to focus us those who did not benefit from the MDGs, for instance people with disabilities.

The Liliane Foundation initiated this advocacy campaign so that the voice of CYWDs could be heard. The procedure is whereby all the children/ youngsters with disabilities, along with other children and youngsters without disabilities, their parents and teachers in solidarity come together to make noise for one minute.  The essence of the noise is to call the attention of the government at all levels and all who are concerned to alert them of the urgent need of education, inclusion and accessible environment for all people with disabilities in every aspect of life through the media.

This advocacy campaign has been going on since 2015, in Africa, Asia and Latin America where the Liliane Foundation has strategic partners whom they support to implement their vision of opening the world for all children and youngsters with disabilities. 

In Nigeria, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent the Paul and her partners in 28 States carry out the “We ring the bell” activity in different styles.  Most of them, after making noise for one minute which is usually captured by the media will set out for a road walk with their children/youngsters and their counterparts who joined them in solidarity.  They walk around their environment with play cards carrying different advocacy messages to alert the society that children with disabilities have equal rights with other children who have no disabilities.

However, the 2018 ringing of the bell took a different shape and style with different activities like the actual making of noise for one minute, bell relay and signing of manifesto. The SPO and the POs joined the rest of the world in ringing the bell in Nigeria on the 21st March 2018. The SPO and twenty four partners rang the bell in 56 schools with the participation of 17,086 children. The following persons joined the SPO in ringing the bell in Abuja: the Dutch Ambassador and his wife, a representative of the French Embassy, a representative of the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, The Leprosy Mission and SOS Children’s Village.

The Daughters of Charity paid an advocacy visit to the Ministry of Education before the ringing of the bell.  The Minister was represented by the director of special education.  The accessibility of schools for children with disabilities were articulated to the minister, highlighting physical and attitudinal barriers as well as the putting in place and implementation of enabling policies, including the adaptation of the school curriculum to include children with disabilities. The ten urgent needs as we have it in the manifesto were made into a roll-up banner and flyers which were given to the Ministry.  In response to the message the minister said that they have in their agenda to make public schools inclusive and that this has begun with a few schools in each State.  The banner which was kept in a strategic place within the Ministry’s premise will serve as a reminder to the Minister of the visit and the need for an accessible and inclusive school environment for children with disabilities.

The result of the “We Ring the Bell” activities in Nigeria has been enormous because when the partners and the children walk round the communities those who were hiding their children at home probably ashamed of having such special children brought them out when they saw that they were not alone.  Many have made calls to us here in Abuja from other States like Lagos and Port Harcourt when they saw the programme on the television.  The number of children with disabilities being enrolled into school to acquire daily living skills or vocational skills increases every year after each advocacy campaign.

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