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Inclusive trek near Bengaluru brings visually impaired & sighted people together

Trekking is a great way to experience the outdoors and make new friends. And when it's an inclusive trek, it can be an even greater bonding experience as a group of 40 people found out at an adventure trek organized at the Nandi Hills, outside Bengaluru.

The trek brought together 20 visually impaired people and 20 sighted volunteers who climbed the scenic 4,850-ft mountain. The climb was a joint initiative of EnAble India, a Bengaluru-based non-profit that works towards promoting inclusion at the workplace and changing attitudes towards disability, and Bikat Adventures, a learning-based trekking company.

Before the climb there was a short sensitisation training for sighted participants on how they should guide their visually impaired partners. The climb took four hours and was a lot of fun with participants trading places as sighted climbers closed their eyes and learned to walk using canes. Many of them took to Facebook to share some of the excitement of the climb.

Though it was difficult to climb thousands of steps they never gave up and with great enthusiasm along with their buddy volunteers we reached our peak point and all our candidates had those positive vibes that even they can do anything like any other normal human being. - Sharath Kumar Hiremath

One participant with a visual and physical impairment who was finding it hard to climb the last few steps was carried to the top by the rest of the team as everyone else applauded. A moment that, in the words of Cambria Sawyer, from the Bikat Adventures team meant a lot of things, as she put it in her blog.

"Arms around shoulders, we all took turns being what he called "his chariot" and together made it the rest of the way to the top. The round of applause and cheering that erupted as everyone reached the summit meant a lot of things. It was personal affirmation that being differently-abled does not dictate your passions in life. It was a message to the world that stigma will not be tolerated. It was celebration over new friends and old, and the thrilling day spent together."

From a hearing impaired climber who gave some lessons in sign language to using words to describe experiences it was a trip full of special moments like these.

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