A Ballymoney businessman and entrepreneur who will stand in the March election in the North Antrim area says more needs to be done to support disabled young people in Northern Ireland.
Adam McBride, 23, is the owner of digital marketing and web company Dynumo and web hosting platform BelfastWeb. He is also the creator of StartNI (an independent business blog) and Belfast Bloggers (a quarterly meet-up group).
Following his announcement locally to stand in the forthcoming elections as an independent candidate, Adam has been inundated with calls from constituents across North Antrim to talk about issues facing their families on a daily basis.
One such issue is the severity by which children and young people with disabilities are losing out in the current system.
Adam explained: “Due to underfunding, many disabled children have found themselves being encouraged to leave mainstream schooling by head teachers who feel they have no choice because of a lack in the necessary resources to cater to disabled pupils’ needs alongside the needs of other pupils.
“These children and young people sometimes end up in other specialised educational institutions but more often than not also have extended periods of no schooling or with their parents leaving work to home school.
“Not only is this in breach of these children’s fundamental human rights, as recognised by the UN Convention, but the fact that their education is being viewed as a ‘cost’ to the economy rather than an ‘investment’ in the future is indicative of our country’s failure of them.”
For Adam change needs to begin at a grass roots level and that starts with society’s most vulnerable.
“If we do not invest in our country’s children, how do we expect our future economy to be strong?” he said, adding: “The non-functioning executive, combined with lack of accessibility and inadequate education funding, is more disabling to disabled children than are their respective medical conditions. By not supporting disabled children, we are missing diverse voices that could help us move forward.
“Issues like this are exactly the reason the assembly at Stormont needs new voices. People willing to stand up for those being left behind. To stand up for a future of hope rather than a future of walking in circles.
“So, while the main parties are trying to distract us from important issues by stirring up the same sectarian divide they have been working at for years, it’s time to talk about the issues that really matter. We do not need politicians who put the interests of their political party ahead of the interests of our nation’s children.”