CpCenter came as a result of Nonye Nweke’s (the founder) journey to motherhood.
Chizimuzondu was adopted as a six-day-old baby. She gave so much joy to her mother (still does), Nonye, who adopted because she did not have a baby of her own but says she had so much love to give. However, she noticed after a couple of months that Zimuzo was not developing appropriately; she was not achieving her developmental milestones. At four months she was yet to hold up her head, reach for toys or do any of the things babies her age would do. She used to shake and shiver like she was always cold; what Nonye now knows to be spasm and seizures. Her concern was dismissed by a doctor with a wave of hand: “Some babies are naturally slow developers,” he said.
At five months, Zimuzo was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP) at Owerri Sick Bay, a private children’s hospital in Owerri, South East Nigeria. Coincidentally, Zimuzo was adopted from Owerri through the ministry of women development and social welfare. The doctor, the owner of the hospital, advised Nonye to take back the child to the ministry. He asserted that she would be unable to care for such a child.
On getting to the ministry, Nonye met with the head of the unit in charge of adoption, Mrs Madu, who insisted that she leaves the child and reiterated the assertion of the doctor at hospital that she cannot care for the baby, more so as she is a single parent. She was assured that arrangements would be made for another baby. When Nonye asked the head of the unit about the fate of the baby if she were to leave her as advised, she was told that Zimuzo will be taken to an orphanage. At that point, according to Nonye, the words “Cerebral Palsy” were alien to her. But it was obvious from the dispositions of the Doctor and the head of the Unit, that it is an issue of substantial consequence.
Nonye left Zimuzo, much as she hated to do that, went back to Lagos and started reading about Cerebral Palsy on the internet. She called her friends and informed them of her predicament and her intention to go back for Zim. Without exception, each advised to the contrary. The more she read about the condition, CP, the more she was convinced that she needed to go back for her baby, convinced that such a baby needed a mother to love her specially, that she must not be a number in mist of many. In about a week, she had read enough to convince her that Zim needed a lot of help which only a mother can offer.
She started a search for a place that cares for children with CP, somewhere she could leave her baby during the day while attending to her business (an upcoming fast food on Bode Thomas Street in Surulere, Lagos). There was no such a place to be found.
A friend of hers took her to an orphanage, which was then off Adeniran Ogunsanya street, in Surulere, that cares for children with different forms of disabilities. She spoke with the founder, told her what she needed; a place where she could leave her daughter and go to work, then pick her on her way back. Once the lady acceded to her request. She then called Owerri and informed the director that she was coming for her baby.
The next day she went to Owerri and took Chizimuzondu, assuring the ministry that she will take good care of the child. She gave them newsletters from the orphanage to assure them that already she was working on helping her baby. On getting back to Lagos, the founder of the orphanage reneged on her promise to keep the baby during work hours, hence she was faced with the challenge of looking after the child, managing her business, keeping doctor’s appointments and going for Physiotherapy at LUTH.
In January 2007, Nonye found a daycare center near her residence that accepted Zimuzo, but the very next day while at work, the head teacher invited her to a meeting. At the meeting, she was informed that the daycare center could not take on Zimuzo because other parents would withdraw their children from the center. Thus, she started a search for a center that takes care of children with cerebral palsy, a search that came to naught.
In June 2007, when Zimuzo turned one, she found another center that cares for children with various forms of disabilities; Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Attention Deficiency syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. But a few months later, based on the burgeoning understanding she then was gaining about CP and its management, she became convinced that the center was not what she needed. She also realized that a lot of parents of children with CP face a similar challenge too. It stood to reason, at that pivotal point in time, that a center where parents can leave their children with CP and go to work, assured that these children are receiving all the needed therapies, was imperative. It was the search for such a center that gave birth to the Cerebral Palsy Center (CpCenter).
Before CpCenter, Nonye was an entrepreneur. She started and was managing a fast food restaurant called "Delicante" on Bode Thomas street, Surulere, Lagos with an outlet on Orile. She shut down the business in 2009 to establish CpCenter in 2010. The center is registered with cooperate affairs commission as a non-governmental organization managed by trustees and an advisory board.
What we do
We have over the years maintained the goals of providing respite for parents and care givers, striving to improve the prognosis of children diagnosed with CP, increasing societal awareness of the condition, and spear-heading policy changes that will positively affect children living with CP.
We attain these goals through;
1. Provision of therapies for children registered in the center which operates a daycare model, such that parents and caregivers bring their children to the center during work hours and pick them up after work.
2. Grass-root awareness campaigns
3. Provision of accommodation facilities for children with Cerebral Palsy.
4. Counselling parents and caregivers facing the challenges of raising children with CP.
5. Advocating for help and policy changes in favour of individuals living with CP and other disabilities.