Confident strides

SPECIAL DAY

Confident strides

They may be slow in the things that others are quick at. They may be the quietest ones in a group. But that doesn’t stop them from becoming the brightest! It’s International Day of People with Disability and Bengaluru has tons of opportunities for these special people.

‘Metrolife’ speaks to them, their trainers and parents to find out how their potential can be tapped.

Nigel Lemos was born premature and when his mother Shirley found out that he had Downs’ Syndrome, she went all out to look for opportunities for him. “But it was very hard to find a good school for people with special needs. Since I was working as a teacher as well, I would have had to leave with him with someone or the other but he would always be on my mind,” she says.

“After a lot of running around, I took him to Ashalaya School for Welfare of Mentally Retarded and then Divya Shanti. But after a while, he fell sick. Then he did paper cutting in Association for People with Disabilities (APD) Pre-Vocational Training and came to Diya Foundation, where he would assist in screen printing and do paper craft,” recalls Shirley.

Nigel’s abilities didn’t go unnoticed as he rose in the job and today, he is employed by an MNC deputed to the Unilever facility where he works in the staff canteen and is responsible for the maintenance of cleanliness there. “He has a meticulous eye for detail. In fact the first week when he was wiping the table, he noticed that the gaps in the slabs of the table had crusted food. So he took a coffee stirrer and started scraping it out. He then swept everything that fell under the table,” says Suman John, CEO, Diya Innovations where Nigel was working after he progressed in Diya Foundation.

“It shows that people with Downs’ Syndrome have a great eye for detail when compared to normal people and the job means a lot to them. So more of these people should be employed,” she adds. There are a number of children with learning disorders in the City and Jayashree Rajanahally, coordinator, Brindavan After School Remedial Centre tirelessly works to merge them in the mainstream.

“The worst part about children with learning disabilities is that their disabilities are hidden. So they don’t get any empathy or sympathy,” she notes. “We have around 60 children from various schools with learning disorders, attention deficit problem and high function autism. But they are all very capable and just need a little support which many mainstream school aren’t able to provide,” she adds.

The children come and go between 3 pm and 6 pm and for three to four of them, there is one special educator. Brindavan Trust has two centres – at BNM School in Banashankari and in Jayanagar Second Block, where they also have walk-in queries for parents of such children. “After all, a little help goes a long way,” she says.

One such student with a learning disability who was also helped by Jyothi Iyer of Brindavan Trust is Anirudh. “A day like International Day of People with Disability is highly necessary as schools need to recognise the challenges faced by such children,” says the student of PESIT.

Says Dr Ajay Kela, President and CEO, Wadhwani Foundation, which also works towards merging disabled people into the mainstream, “India has about three to four million educated disabled but their representation in corporate India is meagre. An educated disabled offers business value having demonstrated tenacity in acquiring their degree despite weak supporting infrastructure. Our mission is to mainstream the educated disabled into sustainable high-quality corporate jobs.”

All that these children need is a little support as Shirley Lemos sums up, “Many people don’t think highly of such kids. But they are really talented and just need the right opportunity.” 

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