By CGN Reporter
Its games time and we arrive at Daisy Special School in Kakamega town; we found students out on the field playing.
Daisy Special School admits students with special cases and those without disabilities.
The students who have no disability can be seen playing on the pitch.
Students with various forms of disability can also be seen seated on wheelchairs whereas others standing on crutches helplessly since they are not in a position to work out for physical fitness.
We met with Enos Emase, who suffers from cerebral palsy and cannot sit properly. He is sitting on a goal post watching helplessly as his fellow students are on the pitch playing.
In an interview with the County Guardian News, he said it’s difficult for him to be found on the pitch playing like other students playing since he cannot walk uprightly and his body aches most of the time.
“I only watch as my fellow students play. I wish I had legs to play like them but it’s difficult for me. I cannot engage in activities that require a lot of energy in order to keep my body fit and even the infrastructure at the school is unfriendly,” he said.
He says lack of physical exercise has affected his mobility since his abdominal muscles are weak. “I find it difficult to sleep as I am always in pain,”
But Rosemary Obiero, principal of Daisy Special School said the students have the perception that they do not fit in the society like how other able bodied children do thus losing their self-esteem.
Ms Obiero said it is very hard to involve them in a serious physical activity since they will get injured and in the long run unable to manage their injuries.
“We do not have trained teachers who can help the students carry out their physical exercise. We urge the government and other institutions of good will to help special schools nurture the students well,” she said.
Joash Bariti is an amputee is from Kabras Centre for the Disabled. He hails from Lukhokho village in East Kabras, Malava Sub County.
Mr Bariti says a small wound that was on his leg developed into a growth leading to the amputation of his right leg.
“I rarely do physical exercise as whenever I try to keep fit by even walking a kilometer, my body will be in great pain,” he said.
David Wechenje-24 years old (Kabras Centre for the Disabled) is crippled and walks with support of crutches. He says there is no a specific place set aside from where he can do exercise to keep his body fit.
Mr Wechenje said there is lack of information on how they can carry out physical exercise and more so they don’t have assistive devices.
However, in Kenya lack of physical activity causes at least 27 per cent of all deaths that can be managed through physical exercise which is the 4th risk factor of global mortality by World Health Organization (WHO).
Scientists aver that lack of physical exercise among adolescents is the major contributor to the increasing cases of diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression and osteoporosis among Kenyans especially those living with disabilities.
According to WHO, ailments that resulted from non-communicable diseases accounts for 27 per cent of all deaths suffered by Kenyans aged between 30 and 70 years which are equivalent to almost 370,000 people annually.
WHO says that death robs the country of skilled man-power which reduces productivity thus hindering the growth of the economy?
WHO asserts that over 14 million people die each year from non-communicable diseases between the ages of 30 and 70, of which 85 per cent of deaths are in developing countries.
Eileen Mulaa a sports scientist from the department of Exercise Science and Recreation Management at Kenyatta University told the Standard yesterday that the probability of dying too young from these ailments is 18 per cent.
Ms Mulaa said the main risk factors include smoking, lack of physical exercise, unhealthy diets and overconsumption of alcohol, adding that non communicable diseases contribute to over 50 per cent of inpatient admissions in the country.
“Regular physical activity increases strength and endurance, aids in building of healthy bones and muscles, helps in weight management and reduces anxiety and stress,” Ms Mulaa said.
But over the years persons living with disabilities are the most affected in which research shows that disability and disabling factors continue to burden the youth in the country as majority of them do not meet the required time spent doing physical activity.
The departments of Health Promotion and Sports Science and Nutritional Science of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) carried out a study on the need of school going adolescents with disabilities in Kakamega County should be involved in physical activities.
The study assessed social and environmental determinants of participation in physical activities among school going adolescents with disabilities.
The lead researcher was Ednah Mogaka and assisted with Dr Peter Bukhala and Gordon Nguka.
The study is published Journal of Sports and Physical Education and was carried out between January – August 2017 and launched last month.
The study was targeting students from special schools and integrated primary and secondary schools in Kakamega County.
During the research, a total 200 were sampled where 127 boys and 73 girls. They were aged between 10 to 21 years old with 43 per cent of them being between 13-15 years.
At most 79 per cent of the sampled students were from special schools, 17.5 per cent in special units and 3.5 per cent integrated in primary and secondary schools.
At least 31 per cent were found to be active three times a week with a high number of them being active at 39 per cent active during school’s scheduled games time.
Socially, the students indicated that their participation in physical activity is necessitated by the encouragement they get from friends and peers which stood at 58.5 as compared to family which was 38.5per cent and teachers 35 per cent.
Lack of proper facilities where the students with disability could exercise stood at 58.5 per cent and appropriate equipments to facilitate their body functionality was 63.5 something that discouraged them from being active in school.
It was found out that lack of adequate and proper facilities/equipment and poor physical exercise (PE), games and sports implementation limits them from participating in physical activities.
Ms Mogaka said they found out that majority of the students did not meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily, adding that schools need to adapt programs and provide for more structured, disability specific physical activities to increase their participation.
She said that the students with physical disabilities find movement stressful and prefer not to participate in any physical activity unless support systems are put in place to ease their movement.
Dr Peter Bukhala, a scientist with specialty in sports disability asked Education Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohamed to ensure all schools in the country have appropriate facilities and equipments designed for students with disability to ensure they do physical exercise daily.
“Equipments and facilities used by adolescents with disabilities can be specifically designed for the type of disability or adapted from the existing ones to allow an individual engage in physical activity that is not possible with normal provision,” he said.
“There is need for increased awareness and training among family members and teachers to increase support and advocacy on the importance of students and adults with disability to be involved in physical activities,” said Bukhala.