This was not an ordinary classroom, nor an ordinary training centre or neither a mundane event. This was for differently-abled individuals.
Working on his task of Character Designing, Kishore Mohite from Pune with hearing impairment is in the hope of winning the ICT competition.
Orthopedically handicapped Anita used to work as an accountant. Today she is competing in Regional Abilympics showcasing her talent by giving beauty therapy services to the onlookers at the event.
Polio affected, Ahmedabad based Lily Wadalia is a second timer at Regional Abilympics after having won two silver medals last year in Embroidery. This year she has tried her hands at tailoring, who runs a small tailoring business from her home.
Like Lily, the Abilympics has given hope to many people in our country not known for looking after its differently-abled.
Ankita Arvikar, Intellectually Disabled, another 22-year-old participant at the event, was feeling evolved after having tried her skills in Floral Arrangements Competition.
Her mother Anjali Arvikar shared, “Ankita has been creating handmade glycerine soap bouquets since sometime and now after having prepared for the Abilympics in Floral Arrangements, we wish to pursue this career for her looking at the profits it might generate in long run making her self-sufficient.”
The Abilympics is a skill-based competition that provides a platform for the differently-abled. Organised every year, its events test competitors’ mental, physical and creative abilities. Participants get a chance to display skills at everything from computer programming to floral arrangement.
The 2-day 19th edition of India’s Regional Abilympics was flagged off today at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. The event hosted by the National Abilympics Association of India (NAAI), under the aegis of Sarthak Educational Trust with the support of The Hans Foundation, witnessed participation of over 450+ people with disabilities (PwDs).
The Inaugural Ceremony was graced by Shri Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Port Trust of India, Ashish Kumar Chauhan, MD & CEO, Bombay Stock Exchange, Edgard D. Kagan, General Consul, Embassy of US, Rosimar da Silva Suzano, Consul General of Brazil in Mumbai, Rupa Naik, Senior Director, World Trade Center, Lov Verma, Former Secretary, DePwD, Krishan Kalra, President- NAAI, Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Sarthak & Secretary General- NAAI, Dr. Sudhir Gupta, Vice President, NAAI, Shri Atul Bhatnagar, Advisory Board Member, Sarthak Educational Trust.
Krishan Kalra, President, NAAI shared, “Today’s event in Mumbai, which is the business hub of the country has helped generate lot of awareness on PWD’s who by large have been a grossly neglected lot in the country. Sarthak and NAAI have been trying to highlight the issue that nearly 30million PWD’s in the country are looking for jobs and empowerment and not charity and sympathy. There are many jobs that they can do better than the able bodied person, today’s event should be of great help in the endeavour.”
The second half of the inaugural day saw a Panel Discussion on ‘Speaker in Reflection of Disability through Media: Speak of me as I’ in the presence of Bollywood personalities Mahesh Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt.
Pooja Bhatt opined, “After meeting and interacting this special pool of talent I strongly feel their eyes telling me, don’t treat me as unequal, give me job. I am more focussed. I don’t have distraction like social media addiction which everyone today is glued to.”
She added, “From my perspective, Who is disabled today, is the one who has ears but chose not to hear. Who has eyes but chose not to see empathy around.”
“Thanks Sarthak Foundation for inviting me here, I badly needed this day of sunshine.. I feel wonderful I could make someone smile today and someday I would love to come back and speak in sign language with these souls,” Bhatt said.
Dr Jitendra Agrawal, Founder & CEO of Sarthak Educational Trust, “Abilympics have been the Olympics showcasing the abilities and tremendous competitive zeal of PwDs. They have also been a platform for all of us in the civil society to question that why in spite of being blessed with such mesmerizing talents PwDs are labeled as disabled?”
He further added “Census data shows that 63.66% of the disabled population is not working compared to 60.21% of the able-bodied. But those working in the field say that employability figures are likely very poor on account of limited resources and difficulties in providing them with skills which could lead to employability.”
Dr Agrawal elaborated, “Once a leading dentist in Delhi, Dr. Agrawal lost central vision of his both eyes in his early 30s because of macular degeneration, a leading cause of severe and irreversible visual impairment. However, he didn’t let his personal disability cripple him and through the dint of his determination and unflinching commitment to the cause of PwDs, he formed Sarthak Education Trust in 2008.”
Since its inception in 2001, Regional Abilympics has seen an immense growth with several stakeholders such as the Government, Corporate houses, prospective employers, crowd-funding platforms, investors, and start-ups joining hands to extend their support and appreciate skills of PWDs, he stated
The Mumbai Abilympics is spread across 4 zones and 10 vocational segments, including ICT (Character Designing, Desktop Publishing, and E Sports), Crafts (Floral Arrangement), Food (Cooking and Bakery), Services (Jewellery,Tailoring/Dress Making, and Beauty Therapy), and Architecture designing through CAD.
The winners in each segment will represent their zones at the National Abilympics and stand a chance to represent India in the International Abilympics 2020 slated to take place in Russia.
Over the years, thanks to generous support that he got from Government ministries, leading Indian and multinational companies, NGOs, the media, and an eminent board of his advisers, Sarthak has trained and secured lucrative placement for over 15,000 PWDs across the industry segments through its 18 centres in India. Sarthak has also facilitated medical rehabilitation of over 1,000 children born with disability through Infoedge (naurkri.com), CROCS, Capgemini, NSDC, Mahindra Finance and many more.
Candidates across India in the age group of 18 to 35 can participate by registering through the official website of National Abilympics Association of India. For participation, registration and any kind of support please log in to www.abilympicsindia.org. or call at 011 4200-4238.