Article By: Sarah Namulondo (Fundraising Officer – CoRSU Rehabilitation Hospital)
Games of Exclusion: How children with disability are breaking the barriers
A struggle has many faces, and sometimes you don’t have to be in pain to suffer. You simply need to be at a play ground watching other children scream away in joy as they kick a ball, or run around in circles chasing each other under the morning tepid sun.
As a child and as a person, you are born with an inherent and healthy need to play and that need does not exclude children with disabilities. Children with disability can often feel excluded from mainstream society. Consequently they can feel that they do not fit in and are inferior.
Inclusive-play is a way of bridging the gap between mainstream and disabled children. Both groups can benefit from playing together and learn a lot from mixing with those so-called “different” from them.
Christine Tusiime, the Head of Rehabilitation Services at CoRSU Hospital says that “children at all ages learn in all aspects of development through play to gain emotional, social, physical and mental development.” Tusiime states that playing is a full time occupation of children, if you take that away or if a physical limitation takes it away the child’s developmental milestones will be affected or delayed.
This alone helps the child become more confident on the play ground and it gives them the opportunity to introduce new games to their physically able friends.
At CoRSU we believe that this kind of inclusive play will help a child with physical disability to get a clear understanding of their physical differences from the others, develop an attitude of tolerance, become more accepting of other people’s attitudes but most of all, help them learn new languages.
Uganda is blessed with about 50 ethnic tribes and the play ground is known to have no cultural barriers as children who speak totally different languages can depend on sign language to communicate with each other while they play.
Over 5,000 corrective Orthopaedic and Plastic Reconstructive surgical procedures and about 10,000 rehabilitation therapy treatments are performed at CoRSU Rehabilitation Hospital every year, out of those, the 80% are children.
Even though CoRSU is a Hospital that’s known for giving hope to people with disability in Uganda, not all the surgical procedures performed on children are corrective orthopaedic surgeries.
Which means some children remain physically challenged but still under go rehabilitation care at CoRSU Rehabilitation Hospital to cope with the challenges of being disabled.
Damastin’s life is back on track now, after getting a prosthetic limb and undergoing rehabilitation at CoRSU, his new limb has afforded him access to the play ground and to take part in games that he covetously longed to be a part of.
Today he goes to school just fine and his captain of the village football team. Fortunately Damastin is one of the many children who are forging their own inclusive communities and games.
In short we can say he has broken the barriers around exclusive games which are known to be played by physically able children.