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Wheelchair users in Kochi rally together under the banner Kochi Wheelchair Koottayma

A group of wheelchair users from Kochi have come together to form 'Kochi Wheelchair Koottayma', that reaches out to other people with disabilities and those from economically backward families in and around Kochi city. They have a list of programs lined up for the next few months.

Creating awareness about disabilities in the society is still one of the most difficult tasks which NGO's and disability rights activists are working on. In Kochi, a group of youngsters who are wheelchair users, have formed a group which aims to spread awareness about disabilities and reach out to those in need. Known as Kochi Wheelchair Koottayma (KWK) which is now more than a year old, its members hopes to spread wings in months to come. Koottayma in Malayalam means gathering together of friends, and this small group is thrilled when they talk about the many ventures which they have undertook in the past few months.

Apart from reaching out to wheelchair users, KWK wants to help all those who are in need, especially from economically backward families. With ten members, this small group is truly unstoppable. They provide wheelchairs, holds awareness classes and also helps wheelchair users get jobs so that they can live independently.

Sebastian Daniel, one of the core members of KWK says that their main focus while starting this group was to create an awareness about disabilities in the society. But they are now venturing into other areas as well.

As wheelchair users, we do not want our limitations to become a roadblock in our path to helping others. Most wheelchair users prefer confining themselves in their homes and they often forget the many talents and skills that they possess. At KWK, we aim to give them all an identity and make them self-reliant and confident. We want to give them wings to flySebastian Daniel, Member, KWK.

The group is now gearing up to help a bunch of students of Kochi based BUDS School, which helps children with intellectual disabilities. Since Onam, Kerala's biggest harvest festival, is round the corner, KWK will provide food kits and clothes to children at BUDS. "We want to help not just wheelchair users, but others who have a disability and are in dire need of help", adds Sebastian.

In the next few months to come, KWK hopes to work on enhancing accessibility features in and around Kochi and also start an ambulance service exclusively for people with disabilities. "There are no ambulance services for disabled people which comes on a call. Even if they come, getting in is difficult without wheelchair ramps and so on. We plan to start an ambulance service which will make things easier for our community members and elderly people as well", adds Sebastian. Benny Puthenpurackal, coordinator of KWK says, "We do not want to leave any stone unturned to ensure that wheelchair users gets the best. We are working together for that".

Currently, KWK is funded by JNB Foundation and St. Joseph's College, both based out of Kochi. They also get funds occasionally from other kind-hearted people in order to carry on with their work. All the members of the group are working professionals. A part of their salary is also kept aside for social work.

Members at KWK are now taking baby steps. They soon plan to spread their venture to other parts of the state. "All our members have equal responsibilities. We do not want to make this look like a huge venture because we are currently just a small group of people who wants to do our best for welfare of people with disabilities", says Sebastian. "People think that a disabled person cannot achieve anything. There is no point blaming the society unless we step out and start working to prove ourselves", points out Sebastian.

Siyad MA, another member says that they already have a handful of projects which they are focusing on. "In order to know what you are capable of, you must come outdoors and start showcasing your skills. There are many others who face bigger challenges in life, but comes out successful", says Siyad.

With determination, confidence and a heart to work for people from disabled community, KWK is gearing up to soar bigger heights.

You can contact them at +91 90724-33703 or +91 88484- 96084.

ALSO READ: Some useful tips for wheelchair users

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