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Inclusion should begin early to build greater understanding & awareness, say experts

October 21, 2018

Dhruv and Vishal(names changed) have been friends since pre-school days in Bengaluru. Dhruv has autism, but that has never come in the way of his taking part in sports and other activities.

Today, Vishal and Dhruv, who remain thick friends, are planning to start a sports academy in Bengaluru, that will reach out to children with and without disabilities.

Given their own experiences, they are firmly convinced that inclusion helps everyone and needs to be promoted and in every way. It helps build understanding, friendship and connections.

Lack of awareness and engagement is often the root cause for stigma towards people with disabilities.

Chitra Shah, Founder, Satya Special School, an inclusive school in Pondicherry, says inclusion is need of the hour. Children with and without disabilities must move hand in hand for a better society.

We follow certain practices in our school to promote inclusion. The main one is stimulation exercise. Here, we introduce a child without a disability on how it feels to be blind. For instance, we blindfold them and ask them to walk a few metres. This shows them how it feels to be in another person's shoes. This exercise has helped a lot of them because children learn to empathise. We also tell our children not to offer help to a disabled person unless they are asked to. We must have an inclusive society for a successful nation. - Chitra Shah, Founder, Satya Special School.

A healthy inclusive society is important for the overall well-being of a disabled person. Did you know that disabled people can become depressed, anxious and have poor health outcomes in a society that is non-inclusive? India, with a population of over four lakh people with different types of disabilities, must take note.

Undoubtedly, that shows the importance of promoting inclusion and the best thing is to strat early.

Himabindu Gattu, Co-founder, Abhilasha Research Centre for Children with Special Needs in Hyderabad, believes in this.

"It is important that we start practicing inclusion from a very young age. At our school, we introduce our children to inclusion from pre-school. It is always best to catch them young. Even disabled children get motivated and learn new things from their peers. The help is mutual", says Himabindu.

We need disabled people to fill important positions in employment and education sectors. We need them to lead political parties and show their skills in art and theatre. For that, we need to open doors for an inclusive society. Let us begin with children.

ALSO READ: Mumbai bookstore Trilogy is helping to spread the word about Braille

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