October 5, 2016 marks a special day in the lives of those living with Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Disorders in Sri Lanka – as much as it becomes a momentous milestone in the journey of the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJFCF). The National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and other Developmental Disorders, officially inaugurated to coincide with World Cerebral Palsy Day, serves as a national hub in giving education, therapy and training, not only for those living with CP and other developmental disorders but also for their caregivers and for teachers and trainers who work with such special needs individuals. Facilitating individual/family/ community oriented rehabilitation, it is believed, would enhance the quality of life of such individuals.
The lack of awareness and social stigma associated with Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Disorders often lead to children and youth with such conditions having to lead a life of isolation and marginalisation, particularly in the absence of a national level programme to facilitate the integration of such groups into mainstream society by way of early intervention, special education, therapy and family training /counselling. Having identified this serious vacuum, MJFCF, partnered by the Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation (CPLF) spearheaded the task of establishing the National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and other Developmental Disorders (NCCCPDD) and the Database of Persons with Developmental Disorders, to build a better understanding of these conditions, and thereby alleviate the pain of those shunned and the neglected; to give them a chance to lead a dignified life free of marginalisation and social stigmatisation. The MJFCF run Moratuwa Centre already provides care for those with Cerebral Palsy conditions attached to its Rainbow Centre initiative and the newly set up NCCPDD will reach out to a wider community, making a tangible difference in the lives of those with special needs.