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Friday, 3 April 2015

The perfect way forward

There is no dearth of innovative ideas in the City and ‘KickStart’, a venture by Vidhya Ramasubban is one which has shown the right way forward. A cab-service that started functioning from last year, it enables the differently-abled and senior citizens to travel in the City without  restrictions. 

Armed with a Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Vidhya has worked extensively in the social sector in India and abroad. She has also spearheaded People’s Action Group for Inclusion and Rights (PAGIR), a disability movement and has launched a travel company, ‘Himalaya on Wheels’, for the differently-abled, in Ladakh. “My long-haul in the social sector and dealing with issues relating to disability told me that a gap exists in equitable transport services. 

So, I felt that there is a growing need to bring about a mechanism which deals with inclusive development,” she says.  A socially progressive and an economically viable service, ‘KickStart’ has tied up with many engineering companies and mechanics to remodel their cars that make travel more comfortable for the differently-abled. One of their cabs has a swivel chair that can jut half way out of the front door which helps the passenger make an easy transition into the car seat.

Their second model has a ramp that opens out of the vehicle back door, allowing a wheel chair to be wheeled in. Their cab also has a detachable seat that can be converted into a wheel chair. Sensitive and trained drivers who escort passengers make ‘KickStart’ a unique cab-service. The booking takes place through phone calls and their website. ‘KickStart’ offers point-to-point drops, airport drops, outstation trips and local hire. The cab service also provides pick-up and drop facilities to the hospital, which comes as a great help for those who have to visit hospitals for regular check-ups. 

The service also caters to differently-abled school children.   As this is a capital-intensive venture, Vidhya cites funding as one of the challenges when she first started her venture. As they have just kickstarted in Bengaluru, Vidhya feels that the start-up has a long way to go. “We are planning to scale up in the City and are focussed on branching out to other cities.” She adds, “The City is not friendly to the differently-abled and we have to cater to every aspect to make it helpful for them — be it looking after the roads, malls and even parks. There are a lot of non-profit organisations which help the differently-abled but the government has to step up.” For details, visit or call 8105600445.

Source: Deccan Herald , 3rd April 2015 

Helping Autistic Children Lead an Independent Life - Kozhikode

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the Autism Week observance in the district, a group of humanitarians is upbeat; they have every reason to be. The members of Humanity Charitable Trust, based in the city, are glad that their years-long efforts have started to bear fruit.

Children participate in ‘Walk for Autism’, organised under the aegis of Humanity Charitable Trust, on the occasion of World Autism Awareness day in the city on Thursday | k shijith

Children participate in ‘Walk for Autism’, organised under the aegis of Humanity Charitable Trust, on the occasion of World Autism Awareness day in the city on Thursday


Since its inception in 1996, they have been struggling to remove the misconceptions in the minds of the public regarding autistic children.
“Hopefully, it seems things are taking a turn for the better. Earlier, autistic and specially abled children used to be treated as burden. The active public participation in programmes meant to create awareness about autism is the cause for this positive change,” says P K M Siraj, a member of the trust.
In a bid to ensure special education for the students, the trust is now running a special school, Roshni, which literally means light, at Annie Hall Road in the city.
A counselling centre is also functioning under the Centre for Rehabilitation and Research for Children with Special Needs at the school.
The number of beneficiaries of the institutions is as good as 100 with adequate employees, including teachers, trainers and and other staff.  “When it comes to extending treatment, education, rehabilitation and providing jobs to these children, we are still lagging  behind advanced countries. Our prime priority is to mould a new culture, where they are given their due rights and are equally treated in all fields of life,” says P Sikandar, another member.
The early intervention centre, where ailments like autism can be detected in their very first stage, is nearing completion at the school. “Around 60 per cent of autistic people, who are  bedridden, could have been brought to the mainstream if the problems were detected in the primary stage and if they were given interventional treatment,” says Siraj.
The trust is also contemplating on a scheme ‘Our Responsibility to Special Children.’ The scheme will help children belonging to underprivileged families meet their financial requirements.
“When a child is found to be mentally retarded, it sometimes means the whole family also becomes retarded as his parents cannot go for jobs. The scheme will extend them financial assistance and moreover make them eke out a living by developing their skills,” says trust member Mohammed Ismael. 
Sikandar also says that despite various welfare initiatives, expert guidance for  parents and children still remains a major gap to be filled. The guidance centre, mooted by the trust, will pass information to parents about the government welfare and charity schemes and the experts in autism treatment.
Parents seeking autism treatment for their children should choose the right physicians as physicians from all types of medicine claim they are the best. “Besides, most of the parents are unaware of their children’s rights, ensured by the government,” Sikandar adds.
“A full-fledged autism rehabilitation village with an environment suitable for autistic people and mentally retarded persons, is our dream. There, they can live their own lives and earn  and need not go to their houses,” say the trio.
When asked how they met the daily expenses of the school without government aid, the trio said that god supported them. A group, which firmly believes that peace comes through extending a helping hand to persons in need, also comes to their aid.
However, the members are worried that the governments are sitting on various demands raised by the autistic. “The much celebrated reservation in the employment sector still remains an announcement,” says Siraj.
The trust is planning to send letters to all MPs in the country, seeking their intervention in the woes faced by specially abled persons across the country.
“Our prime intention is to make a specially abled-friendly state a reality,” says Siraj.

Source: The New Indian Express, 3rd April 2015