Ashirwad shows the ability in disability in Punjab
Ashirwad was started in Ludhiana by three parents of children with cerebral palsy. The focus here is on early identification and intervention.
This is a difficult task given the stigma that is attached to CP and other disabilities in Punjab, says Dr Neelam Sodhi, one of the founders. "Most parents feel like they have to hide their children."
"When we started, we got only older kids with CP and we realized that doctors didn't know anything about early diagnosis and therapy?", says Dr Sodhi. "So we conducted workshops and conferences among doctors to sensitize them."
This was followed by sensitization and teacher training at private schools. Ashirwad realized that their intervention programs would only be successful if they worked with schools. "We needed to enable them."
Even today when there is greater awareness and understanding, there are still many disabled kids who suffer from lack of attention.
"We still have children of 8-9 years walk into our centre who have been given no help at all. We even had a 30-year-old intellectually disabled woman who had not learned anything", says Dr Sodhi.
Ashirwad engages with the government, NGOs, and the public through every available form to break this silence and talk openly about disability. "Thanks to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, some wonderful work has taken place at the grassroot level in Punjab", says Dr Sodhi.
To bring the disabled into the public eye, Ashirwad has initated many initiatives like holding a performance by special kids at the state Republic Day Parade to running the Sakshat canteen at the Ludhiana Secretariat - all attemps to show the ability in disability.