A walk in the park: Building a community that cares
November 28, 2018
Like all teenagers, Abhimanyu Srinivas loves the outdoors, especially in the beautiful Delhi winter. He enjoys walking down Lodhi Garden's tree-lined and flower-specked trails, looking up at a pandemonium of parrots, joining them in song, playing football, and then enjoying a tasty snack.
Family outings like this gave dad Madhusudan Srinivas the idea of doing this along with a gang of other kids with autism. For children with autism also have sensory needs that the environment can take care of. "Like in a park there's a lot of visual things happening, things for the hands to do', says Manish Samnani, Abhimanyu's occupational therapist.
Further, hanging out in gang would help socialise the kids, a key challenge with children on the spectrum. So along with Samnani, Srinivas began a kind of weekend playdate.
For starters, he reached out to all the kids Abhimanyu had grown up with. Initially, there wasn't much of a response, chiefly due to logistical issues. `But some children came, and we got something going', says Srinivas.
Besides having some fun, we looked forward to talking to other parents, exchanging notes, lightening our souls (very therapeutic, that) and then heading back home. - Madhusudan Srinivas, Journalist
Around that time, about a decade back, Bibhu Mishra, a journalist, took a transfer to Delhi from Bhubaneshwar, looking for better facilities and opportunities for his son Vivan, who has autism.
"For both parents and the children, Madhu's concept was a novelty," says Mishra. "Every weekend, we used to pack lots of snacks and eagerly set out for our get-together".
Sometimes, especially in the rains, instead of going to the park they would all go for a nice, long joyride on the Delhi Metro.
By including children with diverse needs, the initiative attempts to sensitise the community as well.
"I feel there's a huge need to sensitise so-called normal kids and adults. We don't need to segregate our kids. Children are very accepting, and we need to sensitise them regularly', feels Sujata Suri, a health coach who also works with children with disabilities.
Besides meeting during these play dates, members of this community now drop in on each other's homes, or simply call up and chat. For both the children and their families, this sense of a larger community that cares has been of immense emotional value and support.
"The very act of going together and coming back leads to bonding and chemistry", says Samnani.
The plan now is to scale this concept to another level by building out the community in different parts of the national capital.
Watch in Sign Language
- Differences in viewpoints must be respected. - Guest Column by Tapas Bharadwaj
August 26, 2019
- Entrepreneur Prateeek Khandelwal’s accessibility campaign #RampMyCity spreads wings across India
August 26, 2019
- Blind student in Delhi threatened & robbed, Delhi Police slammed for failure to respond
August 25, 2019
Read more on Newz Hook
- Accessibility August 20, 2019 Ministry advisory on accessible public transport raises more questions
- Technology August 25, 2019 18-year-old with autism wins fans across the world with his app Aumi
- Headlines August 20, 2019 Security hiked for Indian cricket team
- Accessibility August 23, 2019 Disabled people push for need of accessible & disabled-friendly Indian Railways
- Get-Hooked August 25, 2019 South Korea’s Duckhee is 1st deaf tennis player to win men's professional tournament
- Accessibility August 20, 2019 #InclusionChamps – Sabke Liye initiative wins Future Retail Limited national disability award
- Accessibility August 23, 2019 Delhi Disabilities Commissioner welcomes order setting up of Special Courts to try offences under RPWD Act 2016
- Headlines August 23, 2019 Former union Minister P Chidambaram in CBI custody until Monday
- Education August 21, 2019 Happy Hands School is enabling deaf children in rural Odisha to learn in sign language
- Parasports August 26, 2019 India para shuttlers win 12 medals at BWF World Championship Para-Badminton 2019
Want to feature your inspiring story or share an event with the disabled community? Write to:
Newz Hook - Accessible News