Friday, November 20, 2009

"The Battle is Still Someone's to win."

by Catherine Turnquist

Last Friday was National Child Day, a day meant to recognize the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among them are the right to healthy development and the right to pursue an education.

The machete trail being currently hacked through our social and health services is putting those rights in jeopardy. Children, particularly those with special needs, must always be a priority, whatever the economic climate. If their needs aren’t met, their health, growth and education are all compromised.

Intensive therapy for autism, treatment for Fetal Alcohol Disorder, services for children with Down’s Syndrome, an anti-bullying program for schools, literacy initiatives – all are being dropped in favour of deficit reduction.

Public health nurses, the only clinic in B.C. for youth with addictions – supports we expect to have available are being lost almost daily. It took years to build up some of these systems and if we let them go now, it will take years to get them back - if we ever get them back.

This has become nothing less than a fight for what kind of society we want to live in and what kind of province our children are going to inherit. Priorities come from values. Values are what make a society what it is, what decides how liveable and how civilized it is.

If we don’t insist that our government protect special needs children, we're moving a step closer to barbarism, to social Darwinism. The biggest, strongest and most-neurotypical will thrive. The children with autism, or cerebral palsy - they'll all get trampled and have their meagre resources strip-mined for cash by the very public officials meant to protect their interests.

Fight, people. This really is life or death and the battle is still someone's to win.

Nov. 20, 2009