Awareness walk advocating inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in society initiated by Ayushkama Foundation on 3 December at India Gate, New Delhi

New Delhi (India), December 9: On the occasion of the “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” (IDPD) 2022, Ayushkama Foundation organized an “Awareness Walk for Equal Participation of Persons with Disabilities”, at the Central Vista Avenue, India Gate, New Delhi. The organization, actively led by founder member Anubha Singhal, works to bring awareness and gather support for rare diseases like Muscular Dystrophy (MD), a rare genetic condition and neuromuscular disease that causes progressive weakness and breakdown of skeletal muscles. MD is also part of the 21 disabilities of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act 2016.  A conservative estimate of overall prevalence of MD is 29 per 1,00,000 population in India, and has no CURE around the globe.

IDPD is an annual event initiated by the United Nations and promotes leadership across the world to recognize all forms of disability and to assist people with any kind of disability in working in mainstream society. The 2022 global theme to raise awareness for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is centered around the “innovative and transformative solutions for inclusive development that specifically covers the role of innovation in shaping an accessible and equitable world”. As per an estimate by World Health Organisation (WHO) “More than 1 billion people experience disability, and this figure is predicted to rise”.

Ayushkama Foundation has been raising awareness and mobilizing support for the inclusion of people with disabilities in all spaces and work environments. The awareness campaign aimed to bring together youth with and without disabilities, to promote an understanding of disability issues, highlight the needs and challenges of different types of disabilities, mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons, and advocate for the required transformations to enable greater participation of persons with disabilities in all walks of life.

The event aimed at sensitization of youth on Disability etiquettes and laws and standards of Accessible infrastructure as per RPwDA 2016.

An orientation session was held to sensitize participants and provide an overview of Disability etiquettes. The event was hosted by Swati Sharma, an award winning anchor, and the dialogue was moderated by Anubha Singhal, she believes “The responsibility of making an inclusive India, lies with each one of us”.

The walk was attended by architects who appreciated the disabled friendly design of redeveloped Central Vista avenue. Accessibility and employment opportunities for Persons with Disabilities is central to promote inclusion. The redeveloped Central Vista avenue which has been designed with accessibility features provided the right venue. Laughter yoga session was also made a part of the event and was encouraged enthusiastically by the audience through loud cheers and claps bringing more energy for the awareness walk.

The walk included awareness around facts on Disabilities and interaction with PwD entrepreneurs from Divya Kala Mela. Over 300 people attended the walk for an inclusive India along with the launch of Swavalamban yatra, an initiative by IDEA. The walk took the volunteers through the entire length of the “Divyakala Mela” organized by GOI, lined with PwDs manning their stalls. Sensitization activities like blindfolding and role playing as a wheelchair user was experienced by the volunteers in the walk. The walk ended emphasizing the significance of the day and calling upon greater inclusion of PwDs in all places.

A Dialogue amongst champions of Disability

The walk was followed by a panel discussion with champions of disabilities, with discussions around the theme of this year. Dr. Nonita Gangwani, a Multiple Sclerosis warrior, says “I think IDPD is the voice for people like us and fulfills the motto Nothing about us, without us. It provides a good platform to celebrate our achievements and share with others.”  Prof. Anil Dewan, Architecture faculty at School of planning and architecture, made an important statement: “From cradle to grave, all of us are differently-abled in different stages of our life. We have to make our built environment non-handicapping.” The dialogue highlighted how innovations and technology plays a role in enabling Disability Inclusion in Indian cities.

Response to the Walk

The highly successful programme witnessed participation by a large turnout of volunteers including persons with disabilities as well as the general public at India Gate. Swati Sharma observed: “It made me realise how less we talk about a huge section of our society. Accessibility will also help the elderly, thus making a difference to all lives.” The Foundation is grateful to all volunteers and audiences for their active participation in making the programme a grand success.

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