Aikya aims to bridge gaps between disabled people and mainstream society
Way back in the 90’s, there were hardly any NGO’s or schools that empowered disabled children. So they were shut down in homes unable to explore the opportunities that the outside world had to offer. Aikya was one amongst the few centres that opened doors to disabled children and adults. Located in Chennai, Aikya is one of the oldest centres that has been empowering and reaching out to disabled people since the year 1990.
The idea of starting Aikya came to its founder Parvathy Vishwanath after she completed her special education. Parvathy’s son had Down syndrome and she knew that there were hundreds of children around her whom she could reach out to. Today, over 200 disabled children and adults take Aikya’s help for education and even employment.
They provide special education, vocational training, remedial programmes and therapies at the centre. Children from the age of two years up to adults are part of Aikya. The centre has children with Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and multiple disabilities.
Back in the 90’s, parents were completely unaware about disabilities. I have seen many adults who were being fed and cleaned by their parents. In fact, they do not realise that a child with a disability can do all this themselves if given the right training. Parents take their children to doctors who ask them to come back again after six months. But all that was clearly not helping a child. I decided I should step in and spread the message of awareness on disabilities-Parvathy Vishwanath, Founder, Aikya
What we need are parents with the right attitudes. Once they accept the fact that their child has a disability, they must empower them in all possible ways. Catching children young and identifying their disabilities can help them in the long run to become independent and efficient.
“Even now there is no acceptance for disabled people in the society. There are therapists in every nook and corner around us. So it has started becoming easier for parents to get help. Therefore I can say that awareness about disabilities is much better now when compared to 25 years back. But we still have a long way to go”, says Parvathy.
Some of Aikya’s beneficiaries have landed with jobs in some companies. The main purpose of Parvathy and her team is to integrate disabled people to mainstream society. Needless to say, the team at Aikya is doing a remarkable job in it.
Karupagama’s 18 year old son Vishwanath has Down syndrome. He joined Aikya when he was just five years old.
“Now, Vishwanath does everything on his own. He is toilet trained, eats on his own and takes care of basic things. All thanks to Aikya and their team of remarkable teachers”, says Karupagam.
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