Land procurement for a model assistive village, a comprehensive facility to rehabilitate differently abled children, is nearing completion in Punalur.
The project aims to integrate various needs related to the health, education, employment and rehabilitation of the differently abled while empowering their parents and caregivers.
Kerala has around eight lakh persons with disabilities and though the government has been implementing various schemes for protecting and mainstreaming them, the rehabilitation process requires more intervention strategies. “The assistive villages coming up in the State are a major step towards strengthening services to the differently abled. Procurement proceedings are in the last phase and the project will be completed in a time-bound manner,” says P.S. Supal, MLA.
The project being implemented by the Social Justice department is expected to offer a range of services that include facilities for early detection of disability, provisions for early intervention, therapy, physiotherapy, surgical correction, special school-cum-vocational training centre (VTC), sheltered workshop, and accommodations for the parents.
Since people with disabilities need training, knowledge and skills in the areas that they are backward in, the facility will help them in identifying and mitigating their disabilities as part of the efforts to make them self-reliant to the maximum possible extent. It has been proposed to seek the services of a multidisciplinary team that includes health experts, therapists, special educators, and parents for the same. While children who are able to perform better through training can be sent to normal schools as a part of inclusive education, those who leave school after the age of 18 will be provided vocational training.
The assistive village is also expected to offer support to parents who need a safe place to leave their children while at work. Apart from that, the centre will have facilities to provide vocational training to mothers or caregivers who are staying with the children. Since parents of differently abled children are more vulnerable to depression and anxiety due to various factors including isolation and financial strain, the project will have a system in place for their assistance.
It is proposed to start a parent empowerment centre at the facility so that they can avail themselves of the help of mental health experts and counsellors. “Usually parents spend their lives worrying about who will take care of their differently abled children after their death. Assistive villages established for the comprehensive welfare of differently abled persons will address those issues permanently,” says an official.