For many children with disabilities in the slums of Nairobi, playgrounds like this are off limits. Social stigmas dictate that people with disabilities are cursed, products of witchcraft, and often they are ostracized. Most aren’t even issued birth certificates—and without their existence acknowledged, they must live like ghosts, excluded from school and other social services.
But at early childhood development centers like this one, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is helping families emerge from the shadows. Here, for the first time, hurdle races and other activities allow children a chance not only to stretch their minds and bodies, but to socialize.
Children play together as a group—some with disabilities and some without—so that no one is overlooked and everyone learns to respect one another. CRS also teaches center staff and volunteers how to care for children with disabilities and provides “positive parenting” training to families. Support groups are organized for mothers, who are often left alone to care for their children.
The program was developed by CRS, Special Olympics and Adventist Center for Care. It arose when CRS staff in East Africa discovered that too many vulnerable children weren’t receiving the attention needed. Now the program also helps identify children with disabilities and educates parents about the resources available to them.
Learn more about children with disabilities in Kenya here: Meet Kenya’s Special, Invisible Children I CRS.
Copyright 2016 Catholic Relief Services