The Counselling Centre has held a day's empowerment programme for students living with disabilities on campus to discuss matters of mutual benefits.
The programme, which brought together physically challenged, visually impaired, friends of People with Disabilities (PWDs), and some other stakeholders, was on the theme: “Our World Where Our Differences Make us Special".
At the Empowerment programme, the Central Regional President of the Ghana Federation Union of Disability, Mr. George Frimpong, called on the public to stop the stigmatisation of People with Disabilities and treat them as equals. He said overcoming negative stigmatisation could only be achieved with the creation of an equal playing field for all regardless of one's disability.
Mr. Frimpong expressed gratitude to the government for promulgating ACT 715(2016) to protect their rights and harness their energy for national development, as well as other legislations such as the Mental Health law, among others aimed at ensuring the fundamental rights of PWDs. He said destigmatisation was gradually taken effect following the election and nomination of PWDs such as Ivor Greenstreet as the 2016 Convention Peoples Party Presidential Candidate and Dr. Seidu Danaa as the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs in the previous government, among others PWDs appointed into high offices in Ghana, which he described as a " Positive discriminatory attitude towards PWDs.
In terms of economic life, he said the implementation of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), District Assembly Common Fund, Planting for Food and Jobs and the Rearing for Food and jobs had empowered PWDs economically. He called on well-meaning Ghanaians and public-spirited organisations to join the campaign against the stigmatisation of PWDs in the society. However, Mr. Frimpong called for the continuous education of the general public to be aware of the barriers experienced by PWDs for the necessary measures to integrate them into society.
He mentioned that PWDs faced some challenges as far as Employment Equality Bill, African disability Charter; National Health Insurance Service Scheme, Free Senior High School Policy were concerned. On the free SHS, he said students with disabilities should be included as beneficiaries of the policy and should not be enrolled at the Mampong Akropong School for the Blind.
Touching on the NHIS, he said not all drugs were covered under the scheme especially with mentally deranged people who visit hospitals. Mr. Frimpong commended the Ghana Health Services for employing sign interpreters to facilitate effective communication to deaf persons who seek medical care at public hospitals.
The students used the opportunity to present some of the challenges facing them on campus to officials of the Couselling Centre. They included their academics, social life, and residential accommodation. The visually impaired students made an appeal to hall executives to give them brailles instead of exercise books every academic year.
Answering some of their concerns the Director of Couselling Center, Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthony Nkyi, assured the students that he would forward those that were outside his remit to Management of the University to address them with dispatch. He entreated them to patronise the services of professional counsellors in the University to find solutions to issues affecting them.
The Vice-Dean of Students' Affairs, Dr. Ntim, who chaired the function, assured that their suggestions would be considered and included in the activities of his Office.