Ms Lewsley said that, from lack of information through to difficulties moving on from school, children and young people with a disability need better provision and an Executive led strategy to support them.
“While the transition from childhood to adulthood represents an exciting time for most young people – learning to drive, heading off to university or starting their career – the story can be very different for many young people with a disability,” said Ms Lewsley.
“During the move from children’s to adult services some young people can find themselves suddenly without appropriate support. There can be few opportunities to continue education, find employment or gain access to age appropriate provision.”
The Commissioner warned that too little information is available for those planning services.
“One of the greatest barriers is the lack of statistical data on children and young people with disabilities,” said Ms Lewsley.
“Children with disabilities can at times find it difficult to interact with their friends or take part in activities. They can be excluded from mainstream education, often because of physical and practical barriers rather than intellectual abilities.
“I want the Executive to develop and implement a strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities in Northern Ireland.
“As part of my Make it Right campaign I hope that children and young people will act now to help make it right for children and young people with disabilities.”
To find out more about NICCY or the Make it Right campaign please visit www.niccy.org, call 028 9031 1616 or email email@example.com
Campaign calls to action:
– The Northern Ireland Executive must develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for the full and effective inclusion of children with disabilities into society.
– The Department of Education must realise the right of children with disabilities to an inclusive education on an equal basis with other children.
– Government must provide age appropriate services for all young people with disabilities as they transition from children’s to adult services.
A 2007 government survey found that around 6% of children under 16 were disabled, which equates to almost 26,000 children in Northern Ireland (NISRA).