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Children want to join all activities

By Our Staff Reporter

Children of Vidya Sagar, a non-governmental organisation working for the disabled, staging a skit at Chennai Central on Wednesday. — Photo: S. Thanthoni

CHENNAI DEC. 3. Disabled children from the city and other parts of the State participated in programmes held here today as part of the World Disability Day. The participants wanted the society to include them in all activities.

At the Government Rehabilitation Medical Centre, K.K. Nagar here, Sakthivel, who lost his left leg in a train accident, climbed a 20-foot iron pole to demonstrate the efficacy of his prosthetic limb. The Health Minister, N. Thalavai Sundaram, honoured the winners in various sports events held early this week.

The Social Welfare Minister, B. Valarmathi, assured a sanction of Rs. 12 lakhs from the MLA Constituency Fund for a women's hostel on the premises of College of Physiotherapy.

Children of Vidya Sagar, a non-governmental organisation, put up skits at Landmark, Spencer's Plaza, and at Chennai Central. Vidya Sagar set up solidarity booths at the bookstore, the railway station and the airport, where visitors signed a pledge in support of the disabled. Kalyanmayee, a women's welfare association of the Airports Authority of India, organised Vidya Sagar's presentation at the airport.

About 1,200 children from schools, run by both government and non-government organisations, took part in the day-long cultural extravaganza at Kalaivanar Arangam here. Spectators cheered the participants, whose dances and tableaux, sent out the message of harmony and equal opportunity for all.

Awareness walk

In the evening, around 200 persons participated in an awareness walk organised by the Spastics Society of Tamilnadu. The parents of spastic children, who formed self-help groups, walked from the Chepauk Guest House to Kalaivanar Arangam. The walkers wanted three per cent reservation in government jobs, admission to regular schools and adaptive, disabled-friendly workplaces.

Mrs. Valarmathi, who accompanied the walkers, later distributed aids and appliances worth Rs. 3 lakhs and gave away prizes to the winners in a cultural show. There were prizes in five categories: mentally-disabled, physically-challenged, spastics and hearing and visually-impaired.

She distributed state-instituted awards to social workers, institutions and teachers. The Lakshmi Kantham Ammal award and a cash prize of Rs. 600 each went to two students, who passed X standard examination with high marks: S. Senthil Kumar, Government Higher Secondary School for the Blind, Poonamallee, who scored 435/500 and S. Akilandeswari, Government Higher Secondary School for the Blind (Girls), Puthur, Tiruchirapalli, who scored 448/500.

The G.V. School for the Mentally Retarded, Chidambaram, won the best institution award. The Lions Academy for the Blind, Medavakkam, won the best employer award. Chennai's Saraswathi Sankaran, Executive Director, DEEPAM Educational Society for Health, won an award for outstanding service to HIV/AIDS victims.

The best social worker awards went to Thara Srinivasan of SCARF, Gita Viswanathan, of the Guild of Service, Chennai, and Madhouraj of R.R. Remedies, Salem.

The Minister praised the parents of the spastic children for forming SHGs and urged other parents to follow their example. She said the SHGs could generate employment opportunities and make the disabled children confident.

C.K. Gariyali, Social Welfare Secretary, asked the NGOs to concentrate on preventive health care for adolescent girls.

Students of P.S. Higher Secondary School, Mylapore, invited children from AIKYA, a school for the mentally disabled. The children also took part in entertainment programmes organised in their honour.

The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation screened a film `Touch and Smell Garden' and held a seminar for teachers and children.

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