At Together Foundation youth with disabilities are learning ways to become independent
As empowered parents to two kids on the autism spectrum, Sangeetha and her husband Chakrapani started the Together Foundation in 2015 along with experts from the fields of medicine and disability. Based out of Mumbai, the centre aims to equip disabled youth with the skills to become self-reliant.
When Sangeetha Chakrapani had quadruplets in 2004, she and her husband V Chakrapani knew they were up for a roller-coaster ride. Raising four kids is not easy and when two of them were diagnosed as being on the spectrum, the couple realised the many challenges that parents and caregivers like them encounter in India.
Today their children have grown up and motivated by their experiences and learnings, the couple started the Together Foundation in Mumbai.
Over time Sangeetha realised that their daughters needed more than just academic knowledge and that led her and Chakrapani to reach out to professionals in the field of medicine and disability to start the foundation in 2015. Today Together Foundation offers workshops and vocational training for youngsters with disabilities like autism, Down syndrome, learning disorders and multiple disabilities.
There are many skills that can be taught to a person with autism to make them independent and self-reliant. Language and communication plays a big role in our programmes. Everybody is capable of doing something. We want to find that out and help them work towards it. - Sangeetha Chakrapani, Founder, Together Foundation.
Enabling many lives
What began as a group of four and a microwave oven for baking cookies has today grown to a team of 22 young adults who earn and learn at a sheltered employment workshop. The bakery is now government- certified unit with commercial sized equipment. There's even a manufacturing unit for paper plates, block printing on paper bags, labelling work for companies, and a registered shop where the products are sold.
Together Foundation also offers language and communication programs to every student based on their requirements. Students who work in the shop learn to interact with customers and deal with product inquiries. Youngsters who require help with personal communication have a phone progamme that requires them to video call and interact on the phone on a regular basis.
"A child with autism does not always remain a child, he or she grows into an adult and will one day live away from parents", points out Sangeetha. "Like anyone else, they too will need to keep in touch with family members and interact with them regularly. Hence it is important for them to learn how to communicate with their siblings or relatives who are living far away. With technology catching up, they must learn to use it".
Shakeela Siddiqui's 20-year-old son Mouzam Siddiqui joined Together Foundation last October. "He has learned work skills and tips about personal hygiene. Mouzam has also started expressing his feelings and looking at him gives me immense joy", says Shakeela. This is a marked contrast to his state of mind earlier. "He used to be afraid of everything and did not want to interact with people. The training he received from the centre has changed him a lot. Moreover, he enjoys spending time there", says Shakeela.
Spreading smiles on the faces of many youngsters and families, the team at Together Foundation of parents, professionals and volunteers have a dream of building a thriving environment for people with disabilities to train, work and achieve.
Contact Together Foundation at +91 70211-84634. Or Email at firstname.lastname@example.org