Life has never been a smooth sail for L.S.Thangavelu. But when he went to Thiagarajar College on Tuesday morning, there was a pleasant surprise in store. For someone who always crawled to reach any programme venue, this day he had a wheel chair to himself. Student volunteers helped him to get into the wheelchair and took him to the venue of the workshop on “life skills and career opportunities for differently-abled students” organised by the Women Studies Centre (WSC).

Thangavelu was overwhelmed by the gesture. He had never been given so much dignity in life till now. “If people like us our treated well like this at all public functions and places, life will be much easier for us,” said the visibly moved participant.

Over 250 students from different city colleges came to participate in the workshop and collectively highlighted the some crucial aspects of their life, often ignored by the common people.

In her presidential address, Dr. Uma Kannan, college secretary and chairman, WSC, mentioned a few inspiring achievers who have defied their disability. She listed six types of skills which the differently-abled individuals ought to develop - participation, punctuality, practice, preparedness, positive thinking and self-confidence.

Mrs. Maida Thomas, Head, Department of French, Fatima College, spoke about overcoming disability and contributing to society. Tracing the evolution of terms like lame, handicapped, physically challenged and differently-abled, Ms.Thomas said that disability is just a matter of perception and these terms would not help them in getting rid of it.

“Physically challenged persons should excel. One should move on after accepting help and concessions from the Government. But at some point in time, we should be in a position to give back to society in a constructive way," she said.

Maida Thomas said that differently-abled should form a third category called 'possibilists' like optimist and pessimist and their mantra should be 'I can and I will.'

K.M. Kanagaraj, District Differently-abled Welfare Officer, spoke about various government welfare schemes implemented by the department and urged the participants to avail the benefits.

S. Manoranjitham, District Coordinator for the IAS coaching Centre for the Differently – Abled and Agricultural Officer, gave a detailed brief on free IAS coaching centre functioning at the Collectorate.

N. Nammazhwar, a clinical psychologist, emphasized that differently-abled people should have the will power to conquer the world instead of brooding over their disability.

Bojaraj and Mr. Karthik of TOPKIDS convened an interactive motivational programme with the students. A. Thamaraichelvan, principal and K. Jayalakshmi, Associate Professor, Department of English, and Dr. M. Eyini, Director, Women's Study Centre also participated.

The college proposes to start a rehabilitation cell from next academic year with the support and approval of UGC, New Delhi. It also plans to provide counselling facility, organize an exclusive job fair for the differently – abled and also link them to industrial network.

As many as 45 students of NSS and NCC wings and Department of Tamil volunteered to serve the needy.