Covid-19 pandemic affected education, well-being of children of determination

Covid-19 totally disturbed everyone’s daily routine, and children of determination could not mentally process the situation


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 9:17 PM

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted children of determination as schools closed doors and remote learning posed an obstacle to their development.

These children lacked social interaction, which aggravated their mental health problems, said Dr Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics.

During a session on ‘Reflecting on our systemic responses to the impact of Covid-19 on Children of Determination’, at the World Early Childhood Development (WED) forum in Abu Dhabi, Shriver said the pandemic caused a serious dent both physically and psychologically. He also said that children of determination were not well equipped to deal with such situations, given their compromised understanding and processing capabilities.

“Covid-19 totally disturbed everyone’s daily routine, and children of determination could not mentally process the situation arising out of the pandemic,” he said.

Shriver added, “Children of determination are often among the most vulnerable and yet important members of society. The chance for all of us to flourish depends on the opportunities the children of determination have to flourish too. They deserve a chance to reach their potential, live a healthy, safe and happy life, thrive, learn and have the opportunity to contribute to their communities.

He noted that the pandemic has unquestionably shown that there is a need to do more and better when it comes to providing support to children of determination and their families.

“In today’s panel discussion, we discussed how we are challenged to change our perceptions of “disability” and instead see the gifts of each child and bring all of our community stakeholders, such as government, educational institutions, private sector, municipal bodies, urban planning entities, healthcare institutions, parents and caregivers, to play a significant role in enabling Children of Determination to lead meaningful lives and thus to enable all of us to live in a world of welcome for all,” said Shriver.

The expert pointed out that many children are disabled because of neglect and some injustice systems in some parts of the world.

“Many disabled children in many parts of the world are not given a chance to get an education because of their physical or mental disabilities,” he said.


To embrace technology and support families in early childhood development, Shriver noted that the Special Olympics would be creating the first developmental digital tool designed to support the needs of children of determination and their families.

He explained that the digital tool would provide individualised developmental guidance in fun exercises, parent-to-parent safe social platform and geo-mapping of local developmental services.

The session yielded several ideas to tackle the gaps.

Among those discussed was utilising technology to support learning outcomes for Children of Determination. Other key WED talks included The ethical questions around monitoring children’s development through technology and Approaches to gaming addiction: Guiding responsible gaming habits for children and parents, among many others.

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