Pune: United Nations Organisation has designated 3 December 2017 as International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).
The 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a positive step towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Various events are organised the world over to increase awareness for the rights of Persons with Disabilities, to create inclusive societies and for opportunities for Persons with Disabilities to explore their potential.
Seminars, talk shows, cultural functions are held at various places in India too, by Special Schools and Centres working with Persons with Disabilities.
Indian Society today has come a long way in terms of awareness and inclusivity. There remains many a mile to go before we can truly claim to be a fully inclusive society in terms of Awareness, Empathy, Accessible infrastructure at all public places like schools, hospitals, cinemas, railway stations, airports, restaurants, rest rooms etc.
We all need to work to enhance Self Esteem, Respect from society and confidence of these brothers and sisters with Disabilities. They are a valuable set of people with immense talent and can contribute positively to society. Creating more and more inclusive spaces, infrastructure and opportunities is the need of the hour.
Cdr Rajendra Pawar, Retd, of First Light Consultants Pune and Mrs Akila Vaidyanathan, Director of The AMAZE Charitable Trust, Coimbatore have been running Adventure camps for persons with special needs especially Autism. Akila is the pioneer in India of this unique concept of taking Special Persons and families out into nature for adventure activities.They are joined in their efforts by Mrs Padma Ramani, a Special Educator with vast experience based out of Pune.
Activities like Valley crossings, Burma bridge crossing, River crossing, Tarzan swing, Commando net climbing, treks through fruit and flower nurseries, nature trails, camp firesand tent staysare a unique experience at the Adventure Camps for Special Persons and Families.
Based on the feedback and anecdotal experiences of the camp participants, the following benefits have been observed amongst the Special children and their family members:
- Improved Health and Fitness for all
- Improved Motor skills, Better attention&concentration for children
- Children develop group skills and social skills
- Families develop bond with other families
- Children develop positive attitude and overcome fear
- Families have more belief in the potential of their children
- Stress relief
- Being with nature and doing fun activities
- A much-needed break from the routine
The third such camp in Western India at the Camp Water’s Edge at Takwe village near Pune-Lonavla is taking place from 1 to 3 December. This camp includes 22 special persons with disabilities such as Autism, Down Syndrome, and fragile x syndrome belonging to families from Mumbai, Pune, Jabalpur, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi.
On hearing about the first two camps conducted by them in 2015 and 2016, friends of Cdr Rajendra Pawar, Akila Vaidyanathan and Padma Ramani have voluntarily come forward this year to sponsor Special Persons form economically weaker segment to be able to participate in the present camp. This has helped enroll 4 participants along with two adults accompanying them in the camp.
The ongoing camp is aimed at achieving the UNOs 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development and its theme for the 2017 IDPD is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”
The camp will help to sensitise society at large, Social Organisations such as Rotary & Lions Clubs, Corporate CSR Heads to support the efforts of First Light Consultants of Pune and Amaze Charitable Trust of Coimbatore in organising more of these camps for more and more of the Special Persons from Indian society along with other children from various schools.
This movement will help in transforming and creating a more inclusive mindset among citizens – especially future generation towards Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs.