The first Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Member of Parliament (MP) for Cape Coast South, Mr Ebo Barton Oduro on Saturday donated sixteen sporting wheel chairs to the Cape Coast branch of the Ghana Federation of Disabled (GFD) to enhance their performance.
Ten of the wheel chairs are to be distributed to individual members to ease their movements whilst the remaining six are for their Basket Ball Team.
At a ceremony to hand over the wheel chairs at Abura, a suburb of Cape Coast, Mr. Barton Oduro mentioned the numerous challenges faced by persons with disability in the country and indicated that instead of the society empathizing with them, it has rather shied away from its responsibilities and resorted to intimidation and taunting.
He said Article 29 of the 1992 Constitution makes provision for the right of disabled persons and mandates parliament to enact laws, which ensures the enforcement of the rights of persons with disabilities.
Act 715 states that persons, who infringe on the rights of the disabled or discriminates against persons with disabilities, can be convicted to a fine not exceeding 50 penalty units or to a prison term not exceeding three months.
Mr. Barton-Oduro said existing institutions and buildings to which the public has easy access are currently tasked to make alterations to provide easy access for the disabled and entreated Local Authorities and permit-issuing agencies to ensure that all new public buildings are provided with disability friendly facilities.
He said the Government is interested in the welfare and total wellbeing of each individual and will do everything within its power to ensure that.
He commended the federation for establishing the first Cerebral Palsy Centre in Ghana, at the Aboom Special Needs School, where the School Feeding programme is running and also mobilizing digital and assistive devices for its members.
He also lauded their effort in facilitating the engagement of two sign language interpreters at the Metro and Regional Hospitals to assist the deaf members in seeking health care and a free Senior High School Scheme for the wards of all unemployed members, as well as scholarships for those at the basic level.
The Chief of Abura, Nana Kodwo Addai II, who chaired the function, appealed to the general public to desist from discriminatory acts against the physically disabled; as they can do a lot to help in developing the country.
He cited examples of physically disabled persons in high positions, notable being the Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, Dr. Henry Seidu Daanaa, who is making strides, despites his condition and encouraged those with disabilities not to look down on themselves.
“If you are disabled, it does not mean your life is over; your body may be damaged but your soul is not”
Mr. George Frimpong, the Cape Coast GFD Coordinator, who is also the Regional Special Education Coordinator, observed that the disabled are discriminated against because society does not recognize the fact that they can also contribute to the development of the society.
He thanked the MP for his gesture, describing it as a step which will create an enabling and inclusive society for the disabled and also make sport possible to all.
Mr. Charles Ezekiel Obboh, a member of the GSPD Basket Ball Team, said one of their biggest challenge is travelling by public transport, especially by taxis and advocated for the enforcement of the Disability Act that protect their rights.
He recounted the team’s inability to travel to Nigeria to participate in an invitational tournament, because they did not have passports and other documents and made an appeal to the Government and Non-Governmental Organizations to help them acquire passports in order not to miss another opportunity.
He appealed for more educational scholarships to enable its members to further their education.
A set of jerseys for the football team of the deaf, as well as RLG laptop computers, were distributed to them by the government.
Receiving the items, Mr. Hector Ato Anaman, the Financial Secretary of GFD expressed gratitude to the MP for recognizing their needs and coming to their aid and promised to safeguard the items.
The ceremony was followed by a route match to the new Cape Coast Stadium Complex, currently under construction and watched a wheel chair basketball and table tennis games for the blind between Western and Central Region members of GFD at the University of Cape Coast campus.
In 2010, the MP donated Wheelchairs to the Basket Ball Team and as a result, two of them have been selected to join the national team.