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First-of-its-kind campaign in Odisha to create awareness about disability rights & inclusion

May 7, 2018

The Odisha State disability Network (OSDN), a group of over 250 NGOs, parents and individuals, is planning a campaign called SASHAKT.

SASHAKT is a one and a half year campaign that aims to increase awareness about disability rights, dignity, empowerment, and inclusion.

Apart from awareness, SASHAKT will also work towards making the disabled community aware of existing facilities and resources, as well as the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. This is the first time that such a campaign is being conducted in India.

The organization spearheading SASHAKT is Swabhiman, an Odisha-based NGO that has been working towards empowering people with disabilities through information, knowledge advocacy, capacity building, research and training for the last 16 years.

Swabhiman has taken the lead in bringing about several policy changes that have positively impacted the lives of persons with disabilities. The NGO specifically focuses on supporting education, building the skills of the youth for availing employment opportunities, increasing public awareness on the issue of disability, working towards accessible cities, and conducting research for enabling advocacy.

The need for such an exhaustive campaign was felt given how marginalized people with disabilities are in India. They are among the most deprived and discriminated against in society.

Given this there is an urgent need to create awareness about inclusion in the public. SASHAKT aims to do this through an exhibition, film shows, and through interactions with disabled people. There will also be a display of their skills, be it through letters, poems, diaries, pictures, photos and cartoons, in every language, including Braille and sign language. These will showcase their challenges and achievements.

There are more than one million people in Odisha with some form of physical and mental disabilities. They face many challenges in their daily lives. One of the main challenges is facing the attitudes of other people. Disability awareness is key to overcoming preconceptions and stereotypes regarding disabilities.

SASHAKT will start on 9 May from Puri and will go on until 13 June in Nayagarh. A team of 30 people with and without disabilities will participate in the march. The program will end on 20 June in Bhubaneswar.

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