A place for Kofi

A day in the life of Kofi Moses who has cerebral palsy and attends Multikids Academy in Ghana

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A day in the life of Kofi Moses who has cerebral palsy and attends Multikids Academy in Ghana.

Kofi Moses is on his way to school. He's a pupil at Multikids Academy in Ghana, West Africa. It's a unique school because it's inclusive - that means any kid can come here - whether they have special needs or not.

Kofi Moses has severe cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair to get around.

He used to come to Multikids regularly, but the school moved across town and so he's not been for a few months. This is his first day back and he'll see his friends.

Kofi has lots of friends at Multikids, like David who says, "Kofi is a good friend of mine. I really like him. He's a fun person to play with."

14 year old Gabby adds, "Kofi has this big smile on his face and he really tries to clap and jump around in his wheelchair."

Kofi's class

There are seven pupils in Kofi's class and they all have special needs, so there are extra helpers to give everyone the right amount of attention.

Teaching Assistant Mabel is working with Kofi. He needs help eating cornflakes for breakfast. Because his muscles are contracted, he finds it difficult to grip the spoon.

Mabel tries to understand what Kofi wants by looking at his mouth and his facial expressions.

Kofi with teaching assistant Mabel Kofi with teaching assistant Mabel

Kofi has never been filmed before and he was really curious about the camera.

He can't speak because he can't control the muscles in his face and throat. But he understands most things - like how his teacher wants him to separate these coloured beads for his maths lesson.

Mandy is the co-founder of Multikids Academy. She says, "when you have cerebral palsy, your muscles don't work very well. In maths class, Kofi practises separating blue and green beads. This will help him then to hold a spoon, hold a cup. We hope with lots of practise he'll be able to do these things for himself."

After maths, Kofi goes to another class to practise communication skills with a ball game. The children pass the ball to each other and tell the rest of the class something about themselves, like what their favourite food is or how old they are.

Friday's child

Although Kofi's friends think he's around 16 years old, nobody really knows for sure. Kofi was found abandoned near a graveyard three years ago, and he's not able to say where he came from.

He was found by a passer-by and taken to live in a psychiatric hospital.

Even though Kofi doesn't have a mental illness, there's nowhere else for him to live.

Staff there named him Kofi because he was found on a Friday. And Moses because he'd been abandoned like Moses in the Bible.

Teachers at Multikids say Kofi's story is all too common in Ghana.

Forgotten children

Physics teacher Amos says, "the traditional attitude to children with special needs is one of a sad one. Most of them they are ignored. They are neglected because there's no place in the system to take care of them. So they are just side-lined or taken to a place that is a quarantine for them, and they are just there with no proper development or anything."

Through coming to this school, Kofi and other young people like him can get the help and interaction that they need.

Kofi's next class is speech therapy. Because he can't talk, Kristy his therapist uses symbols and games to help him express himself. She says, "Kofi is able to show what he wants. When he's using the pictures, people who know him understand what he needs."

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused by complications in early life. In Europe it affects about 1 in every 400 children. In developing countries the number is higher - about 1 in every 300 children. Severe cerebral palsy causes twisted limbs and muscle spasms. Kofi has physiotherapy at school, this could help him learn to use his body.

Alberta is Kofi's physiotherapist. She says, "relaxing the muscles helps Kofi reach for things by himself. It could help him in dressing, sitting, feeding and bathing himself."

Kofi and his physical therapist, Alberta Kofi and his physio therapist, Alberta

With Alberta's help, Kofi can even take some tentative steps.

It's unusual to have mainstream and special needs pupils being educated as closely together as they are here. But everyone seems to get something from it.

Pupil Mya says, "it has made me think about the children who need more help than the children who don't need more help, and that they should be put first instead of all the other children."

Effie says, "when I came here the topics came more easily because the teachers explained it more fully and more slowly than the others, because at my last school they were progressing very fast and I couldn't keep up."

Half of the population of Ghana is under the age of 15 and schools are already stretched to bursting point. Young people like Kofi are often left behind.

Kofi's best chance of improving is through coming to Multikids. Staff here hope the same inclusive approach to education can be adopted across Ghana.

Schools World Service is a BBC British Council co-production

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