Event Tamana's walkathon to raise awareness about autism drew the participation of several Delhi schools

T he only disability in life is a bad attitude towards the disabled. Tamana, an NGO that has been ceaselessly working to change the behaviour of society towards children with special needs, organised an awareness walk to celebrate World Autism day not long back at School Of Hope in New Delhi's Vasant Vihar.

“I had a dream to create a world of inclusion. It has taken 25 years of struggle to open the minds of Indian society to accept the disabled,” said Dr. Shyama Chona, founder of Tamana. “These children are as much a part of this society as others. This effort of ours is to make this fact known and to acknowledge their presence in the society. We are trying to develop autistic kids into normal, independent, confident citizens, capable of serving the society and the nation in almost the same way other citizens do.” She also pointed out, “Parents of disabled children feel awkward bringing their kids into malls, parks, social gatherings. They should treat them normally.”

Some special needs students who are higher academic achievers can be admitted in mainstream schools. On the bridging process, she stated, “Most of the schools do not have teachers for Special Education and are not skilled to handle these children. At our school, we offer speech, occupational and physiotherapy, life skills training, computer education, music and dance, weight management and physical fitness, sports and extracurricular activities, counselling, behaviour modification, diagnostics and assessment facilities and family counselling.”

The event witnessed high spirits, with children from well known schools like Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Vasant Valley, Tagore International Vasant Vihar, Springdales Dhaula Kuan, Lalit Mahajan School, Guru Harkrishan Public School Vasant Vihar, Upras Vidyalya and DPS R.K. Puram joining hands with the Tamana students for the walkathon, which went from School of Hope to Basant Lok market. The aim of the walk was to spread awareness about the condition. All the students were welcomed with ‘Support Autism' badges.

The march was flagged off by Bharkha Singh, the local MLA, along with Chona. Students held up slogans like “Include me in your world”, “We may be different but aren't we all”, “I am not sick, I am special”, “I deserve acceptance and respect as I am”, and others.

To sensitise not only the students but also the general public about autism, teachers of Tamana performed a nukkad natak (street play).

YAMINI BAINWAL

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