The main objective of the event was creating awareness on rights and privileges of the disabled.
The Walkathon, which was flagged off from Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Project office of SVYM at Jayapura, Mysore taluk, was given a warm welcome at all the villages.
There were more than 10 crore people who are affected by various impairments, but the survey indicates only 2 crores in the state, which shows that statistical reality is different from the social reality.
The physically challenged are deprived of basic facilities and the situation is more serious in rural areas. Change in the attitude towards the physically challenged who have been continuously neglected by the government and the people, is need of the hour.
With the main objective of creating awareness on the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Right and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which fixes the responsibility of the Central government, local bodies to provide services, facilities to people with disabilities to provide equal opportunities for them to be productive citizens of the country.
The disabilities covered in the Act are blindness, low vision, leprosy cured hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness.
M P Ramesh, Project Manager of CBR Project told Deccan Herald that the walkathon covered around 90 villages in 22 Gram Panchayats of the taluk. The volunteers had the opportunity to interact with the community and observed that the physically challenged people there were completely oblivious of the existing Act and their benefits. Moreover, the local bodies themselves were not aware of the Act.
It becomes mandatory to educate the functionaries at all levels regarding the provisions under the Act and make them aware of their responsibility. Steps should be taken to monitor three per cent of the budgets of all the departments of GPs, TPs, ZPs as well as Urban local bodies is allocated and utilised. Installation of disabled-friendly systems, enrollment of children with disabilities into regular schools for inclusive education and training for teachers as well.
The walkathon aided in the inauguration of five self help groups comprising physically challenged as members, which is sure to increase their confidence level. The villagers bestowed their hospitality by arranging food and other facilities for the volunteers.
Publicity materials like posters, stickers, pamphlets related to the issues of disability were distributed and pasted at vantage points. Street plays and songs on the subject were enacted and rendered by the teams of the people with disability. Handicrafts made by the physically challenged were exhibited along with video shows and interactive sessions with the community were also held to enlighten the facilities available under the act.
M R Seetharam, president of the movement, who was instrumental in the programme, told this correspondent that the walkathon was taken up not only to create awareness among the challenged but also among the others to help the physically challenged to join the mainstream of the society.