With butterflies made of scrap metal hanging above their heads, a group dressed in yellow T-shirts made heads turns as they danced to their heart’s content at the Select City Mall in Saket here. The usual Sunday buzz toned down as the music rose and people gathered to support The Special Network’s efforts at raising awareness.
Started by Namrata Agrawal and her siblings, The Special Network is a network for people with special needs which connects families, caregivers, friends and people sensitive towards this cause. “We are four siblings and my sister has Down Syndrome so we decided to start this network about a year back,” said Namrata. “The idea was to create a community which will not only be able to get together to have some fun like today but also for parents to meet and exchange information; more like a support group,” she added.
Around Namrata, a group of young adults, who had finished with the dance, were taking a “Friendship Walk” around the mall with placards that read ‘Let’s Be Friends’ and ‘Accept All Love All’. Among them was 15-year-old Aditya Kohli, who also participated in the T-shirt making workshop held earlier this week by the Network. “We have become a permanent part of the network,” said Aditya’s mother Triveni Kohli. “Such experience boosts their confidence and gives them the opportunity to showcase their talents.”
Ms. Kohli said such events in public spaces make her son feel important. Her husband, Dr. Pramod Kohli, said such events are very good sensitisation programmes for the larger public. “Malls are crowded at this time of the day and by having such events here will raise awareness among people,” he said.
Raman Rekhi from Special Olympics Bharat shared the sentiment when she said, “it is about different abilities and not disability.” From Special Olympics Bharat -- a movement that uses sports as a catalyst to transform the lives of children and adults with intellectual -- came 20 participants who for the first-time participated in walks like this. “I took part in a torch run once but this is the first time I am participating in an awareness walk,” said Patrick Gomes, who is one of the coaches.
As for ace table tennis player, Harshit Sharma (22), who had brought along his sister to see him dance, he was all smiles and said: “I had a great time!”