Employment October 21, 2020
Kozhikode-based ‘Yellow Wings’ provide job opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities
‘Yellow Wings’ is a venture started by Kozhikode-based Prakash Mathew and a few others to empower people with intellectual disabilities to provide them with job opportunities. Through their initiative ‘Wings of Life’, many youngsters are provided with employment to help them sustain and become independent.
For 44-year-old Prakash Mathew who hails from Kozhikode in Kerala, working for people with disabilities was something close to his heart. So in spite of being a fashion designer and model, who still works in the field, Prakash teamed up with a few people to begin ‘Yellow Wings’ to empower people with disabilities. Their venture ‘Wings of Life’ aims to provide job opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities above 18 years of age. The journey till date has been great, says Prakash.
‘Yellow Wings’, providing equal opportunities
Prakash who completed his studies in Bengaluru worked in Dubai and then Europe as a model and fashion designer before returning back to his hometown in 2012. Even today, he works for his company based abroad, though his work timings are at night. Since he has a free day time, Prakash decided to dedicate it to work for people with disabilities. He worked with a few NGO’s in the city and was part of their campaigns that involved disabled people.
In of the campaigns organized by the district administration, Prakash got to interact with thousands of disabled people. “Most of them told me that when they were kids, people came forward to help them. But now that they are adults, no one wants to help them. I felt it was worse for people with intellectual disabilities. I knew I must do something for their welfare, something that can engage them”, says Prakash.
Thus came the idea of founding ‘Yellow Wings’. Their venture ‘Wings of Life’ which aimed to provide job opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities was started in May 2019. Prakash collaborated with Sheri Thomas, Latha Maoharan, Shahanas Beena, Aashidha Firoz and Maria Joseph.
Beginning phase of their foundation was to prepare trainees to be part of a stitching unit which produced carry bags. This included providing them with training for peddling stitching machines, cutting clothes and measuring them. Currently, they make laundry bags for hotels. The team is divided and given tasks that needs to be completed after rigorous training. Currently, there are 26 people with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities who are part of the team.
Supporting independence through employment
“What makes us happy is that the individuals and their parents, who thought their children couldn’t achieve anything, are now happy. They are earning and doing things on their own”, says Prakash.
Due to the Covid pandemic, sessions have moved to online platforms. The day begins with yoga and other physical exercises. Each team ensures that the product that is delivered is of the best quality because there is no compromise on that. Every three months, members are given new tasks.
The team is trying to rope in parents to make sure that the work goes faster and smoother.
Prakash who has also done a course in special education is determined to bring out the best from these disabled youngsters with the help of his team.