Offering support where no one goes, SPARC India reaches out to disabled poor
School for Potential Advancement and Restoration of Confidence or SPARC India has been set up by Dr Amitabh Mehrotra who was motivated by his own experiences as a cerebral palsy patient.
SPARC India's area of focus is the disabled poor in India. It works in urban slums of Lucknow and rural slums in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, to bring the disabled into the mainstream by giving them opportunities to empower themselves.
"Most of the families in the slum areas hide their kids if they are disabled because there is such stigma", says Dr Mehrotra. "Also they are very scattered and tend to move around, so reaching out to them is a challenge. They are ignorant about facilities like disability certificates but with persistent efforts, we have been able to reach out".
SPARC India has set up the Jyoti Kiran School in Lucknow which reaches out to kids with various types of disabilities. The school started off for children with CP but today includes children with all disabilities. It is now being transformed into an inclusive school for all kids.
The approach at the school is a mix of academics and counselling, as well as music training, theatre workshops, workshops for siblings and speech therapy.
SPARC India also runs a resource centre where people with disabilities are trained in life skills and technical skills. At the end a job fair is held where those who finish the program are placed.
SPARC India has a reach to 30 districts of UP where it is helping residents access rights and entitlements set aside by the government.
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