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“ஐக்கியம்”…oneness of spirit ..

Updated: Oct 20, 2018

Akhila Vaidhyanath

Akhila Vaidhyanathan
Akhila Vaidhyanathan

“A Congress for persons with disabilities…..

organized by persons with disabilities ,

where presenters and resource persons will be persons with disabilities …”

This was the concept that my friend Rabindran Issac brought to me about a year back …with him were Micky Joseph of Nandavanam and a couple of others. They shared with me their experiences of their participation of the World Congress in Russia along with Sumanth Iyengar and Vinay Prasad in September 2017.

I was excited right away …. I always believed that there were a whole bunch of us who keep talking about persons with disability... what they need, what they do, what they need to do etc. ...but who better to talk about these issues than the persons with disabilities themselves. It also seemed to be a great idea to bring together persons with diverse needs and challenges together in a space for 3 days ...where they could synergise and come up with wonderful solutions and create lifelong bonds.

I always hold each person who has a disability with great awe …they go through so much just to access what should be their basic rights like acceptance in society , education, employment and relationships. Their very journey makes them so resilient and pragmatic and since they have accepted the deficits in their lives…. they have an attitude of positivity when it comes to facing day to day issues. There is so much to gain when we interact with them.

Serendipity is what brought me to this world of disability …my son is an adult who has Autism. His journey in this world has led me to my life’s mission of being an enabler in the area of disability where I am able to help individuals reach their potential and families to navigate through the maze of difficulties that comes with each disability.

I founded The AMAZE Charitable trust in 2012 where we work with adolescents and adults with Autism and related developmental disorders with a lifespan approach . As a part of our community outreach efforts we conduct Adventure Camps for persons with disabilities .We have conducted 18 such camps in locations such as Coonoor, Nilgiris -TN Takwe [near Pune], Maharashtra and Manali , HP .We also have helped organize the Velvi Art for Autism festival a few times in different cities like Coimbatore , Bangalore and Mumbai .

These experiences came in handy in organizing and hosting the First Indian Congress for persons with Disabilities in Coimbatore with Rabindran Issac, Micky Joseph and Sumanth Iyengar joining me as the core team members and Thomas Kraus from Germany , the initiator of the World wide congresses as our mentor.

The First Indian Congress for persons with Disabilities in Coimbatore conducted from March 1-4 , 2018 at a fully accessible and picturesque location at the base of the Nilgiri range – the Karl Kubel Institute for Development Education, Mankarai was a great success .Seventy five delegates from all over the country convened here for three days .There were presentations on a range of topics from low cost adaptive devices to adaptive sports , from photography to social media marketing .There were panel discussions on important topics like employability and relationships . There were picnics and concerts - there was music , dancing , good food and at times pure revelry and madness .

At the end of the three days delegates left with a feeling of finding not only new friends but whole a new paradigm ...where disability did not matter anymore … where everyone could be just humans again ...where caregivers did not need to be on high alert as the whole community was available to support. The feeling of oneness was palpable …the word that came to me was “Aikyam” which means in Tamil inseparably united gave hope to the possibility of whole new world where these amazing beautiful minds could be truly celebrated.

The torch has been lit and is being carried forward by the young team for the Second Indian Congress for persons with disabilities at Bangalore in summer of 2019. Hope to see you there for another wonderful experience.

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