This week’s focus while we observe Disability Rights Awareness Month is on children, under the theme: “Accelerate efforts in realizing the inclusion for every child with a disability.” Between 03 November and 03 December, we are reminded that disability rights are human rights.
“Just as we safeguard our human rights so sacredly, let us not forget persons with disabilities have rights too. It is up to all of us to uphold these rights, and create accessible environments where inclusivity and diversity are top of mind. When it comes to children, the Western Cape Government is committed to providing services that ensure their well-being and dignity are upheld,” says Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.
The Department has allocated R164 million to support NPOs that provide therapeutic and support services. The Carel du Toit Centre is one of 62 Social Service Organisations supported by the Western Cape Department of Social Development.
Minister Fernandez visited the Centre, which provides support and education up to Grade 3 for children who are hearing impaired or deaf.
“The Carel du Toit Centre & Trust believes that all children have the right to equality and the freedom of speech (expression). Children with hearing loss possess the same potential to learn as their typically hearing peers, provided early intervention is initiated. It is ideal to diagnose hearing loss as soon as possible after birth so that intervention can begin,” says Carel du Toit Centre Principal, Zenobia Helm.
Audiologist Tara Odendaal took Minister Fernandez through the vast facility, starting at the CHAT Centre, the starting point for families referred to Carel du Toit. Here, initial assessments are conducted on children, and various support services are offered to families.
Then it was on to the Carel du Toit school, where Minister Fernandez chatted to children who were eager to share what they’ve been learning, like their speech progress, artwork, singing and baking talents.
“I am so impressed by the incredible work the staff at Carel du Toit do. Meeting children who could barely speak when they first arrived here, who are now lively chatterboxes, fills me with hope! To the parents and caregivers of children with hearing impairments: you are not alone. There are a range of support services available, do not hesitate to utilize them,” says Minister Fernandez.
To access more information about services offered by the Department, call our toll-free number on 0800 220 250, send an email to SD.CustomerCare@westerncape.gov.za or visit the department’s website: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/dept/social-development.