India – I pledge to overcome the fear of difference and replace it with the power of inclusion

To read on The Hindu website:


Special Olympics team illuminates Hampi’s Ugra Narasimha in red

Special Correspondent   BALLARI, July 23, 2018

 fear of difference

The Special Olympics team that illuminated Ugra Narasimha atHampi in red.Special Arrangement

It was to seek support for the inclusive movement of persons with intellectual disability

Special Olympics from Hosapete in Ballari district lit up Ugra Narasimha, the monolith monument standing majestically at the world famous Hampi, in red, asking the world to support the inclusive movement of persons with intellectual disability. The team illuminated the monument in red to mark the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics movement on Friday for global demonstration of tolerance, respect and celebration of differences and also giving a call to the world to help bring urgency and awareness for the inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, according to Arathi K.T., vice-president, Special Olympics Bharat, Karnataka. Incidentally, the Ugra Narasimha monument was the only one in country and among the 225 important places in the world to be illuminated in red with the slogan, “Special Olympics wants the world to join us and light up for inclusion – Here we go with Hampi, India”.

Saadhya School for Intellectually Challenged and Special Olympics Bharat Karnataka, Ballari district, took an initiative to support the movement, under the leadership of Ms. Arathi and Shilpa Singh, regional head of the organisation. The programme concluded with the oath: “I pledge to look for the lonely, the isolated, the left out, the challenged and the bullied. I pledge to overcome the fear of difference and replace it with the power of inclusion. IChooseToInclude”.


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Inclusion Ireland on how the State is letting down children with disabilities

To read on The Journal website:

Children with disabilities: ‘The assessment of need system is in disarray’

Why, at a time when we should be advancing the rights of children with disabilities as citizens of this State, are we letting them down more than ever, asks Paddy Connolly.

Paddy Connolly is CEO of Inclusion Ireland.  July 21, 2018

 Inclusion Ireland

Paddy Connolly CEO, Inclusion Ireland

INCLUSION IRELAND IS all too aware from our work that reform in disability law and policy moves at glacial speed.

Additionally, when policies are put in place and laws are actually changed they are rarely implemented, and children with disabilities and their families, in particular, are left fighting for the crumbs from the table.

Personalised Budgets

Take for instance the proposed system of Personalised Budgets which, when implemented, has the potential to revolutionise how disability services operate, placing control with the person with the disability or their family where appropriate.

Crucially, the report of the Taskforce on Personalised Budgets, which Minister Finian McGrath brought to cabinet last Tuesday, has excluded children. Inclusion Ireland was part of the Taskforce and, disappointingly, this decision comes despite no rationale and in the face of international trends towards no lower age limits.

We can draw no conclusion other than number crunching has trumped equality, leaving children and their families excluded from this key reform.


Further evidence of the lack of prioritisation of children with disabilities is plentiful. Take the baffling exclusion of children with disabilities from the aegis of the Child and Family Agency’s (Tusla) services.

The former CEO of Tusla, Gordon Jeyes, told Inclusion Ireland that he had been a director of children’s services in three jurisdictions but that it was only in Ireland that he did not have responsibility for children with disability.

The widely reported ‘Molly’ case demonstrated what can occur when no agency is responsible for the safety and welfare of a child with disabilities. Inclusion Ireland’s call for Tusla to be given responsibility for children with disability alongside their non-disabled peers has been resisted and points to a system ill equipped and unprepared to respond to children with additional needs.

Add to this, the experience of children with a disability in our schools.

Right to education

So many younger children with disabilities are having their Constitutional right to education circumnavigated by the use of ‘short’ school weeks of two or three days due to inadequate resources.

When children with disabilities are in school, they are experiencing restraint and seclusion on an alarming scale. Inclusion Ireland is currently completing a report on the use of restraint in schools which will shine a stark light on the frightening experiences that many children with disabilities are having in our classrooms.

Thirteen years after the Disability Act was brought into law, it is time to admit that it has been a failure. The Act itself disappointed so many who wanted their children to have a right to, not only an assessment of need but also a corresponding service. Early intervention, long-established as an imperative to positive outcomes, has not been a priority for successive governments.

The assessment of need system is in disarray with flagrant disregard for the statutory time limits. Proposals to bring in a new operating procedure involving a 90-minute assessment have rightly been met with criticism by therapists, parents and unions. Once again, corners are being cut in the name of our children.

No meaningful support

All the while, families are struggling under the weight of a system that offers no meaningful support.

Children are told they will need to remain in wheelchairs during the school day, parents are told to call the gardai because there is no mental health intellectual disability service available, families are pursuing the State in the High Court simply to have their child’s legal right to an assessment of need realised, and children like ‘Molly’ spend years experiencing the worst forms of abuse because neither the HSE nor Tusla could decide who was responsible.

In April, Ireland finally ratified the UNCRPD after 11 years of excuses and delays. The Convention includes an Article expressly for children in recognition that specific measures must be made to ensure that children with disabilities enjoy the same rights and freedoms as all other children.


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