“Seer Salamat Toh Pagdi Pachas!”

Sharing my thoughts on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, which was observed on 10th October. These are my observations, musings.

We seldom acknowledge any mental health issue which we experience. e.g. depression, anxiety, persecution, obsessive compulsions etc. & continue to be miserable without seeking any help.

We have been indoctrinated not to be open about any mental health issue, as if we say so, it’s considered as a sign of weakness. At the same time, I have seen people obsessing or even flaunting their ever fluctuating blood pressure. And it is expected that we, the surrounding people show concern or sympathy or suggest some remedy.

I was pondering over this & it fueled my train of thought. Many a times, what we don’t realize is that even our minds need checkups, monitoring, exercise, rest, relaxation etc. just like our body. There is nothing wrong in saying I am not feeling well emotionally & need help.  I still remember that incident, when I was diagnosed as having epilepsy, a lady asked me, “Are you mad? Do you have any tensions to cause epilepsy?”.

There were too many issues involved here, like her insensitivity towards my Epileptic condition. Secondly, her ignorance about Epilepsy & confusing it with a mental illness instead of understanding issue as just a neurological condition. What disturbed me the most was her condescending attitude towards a mentally ill person as calling them mad (using it like an negative adjective).

It required a lot of calmness & patience to make her understand what Epilepsy is & what mental health was. Though in my case, it was due to chemical imbalance during pregnancy which caused my epilepsy. As I kept my cool, I told her the exact reason for my epilepsy and made it clear, that if  I was not tough or mature enough & did not understand my condition well, the words she had uttered would have destroyed me. (That’s the reason why people with severe epilepsy or people having any mental health issue can undergo depression, persecution & isolation).

I am not sure about the amount of difference my statements made in her life, but it made me an Advocate for People with Special Needs.

I realized that a lot of awareness & sensitivity from the society is required for a person who is going through a serious mental illness. Adequate Support & Counselling to persons undergoing any mental health issue is extremely necessary to prevent a mental setback & restoration of mental balance & harmony.

“Seer Salamat Toh Pagdi Pachas!”

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October is Learning Disability Awareness Month, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Health, World Sight & White Cane Safety Day!!

This month we observe Learning Disability Awareness Month, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Health, World Sight & White Cane Safety Day!!

October is declared as Learning Disability Awareness Month.In 1985, it was decided through a proclamation in the U.S. by President Ronald Reagan. Since then, many other countries have started Awareness campaigns through out the October month.

3rd October is celebrated as National Cerebral Palsy Day.

We are also observing World Mental Health Day, supported by the United Nations (UN), is annually held on October 10th, will raise public awareness about mental health issues worldwide.

Just as mental Health is important, we recognize blindness and vision impairment as global public health issues. Therefore, we would like to draw your attention towards World Sight Day 2015 which is observed on second Thursday of October, which falls on the 8th this year. Incidentally, 15th October is White Cane Safety Day!

The month ends on a very significant note i.e. Dussehra..the festival that signifies the victory of good over evil. ChildRaise wishes you all a very Happy Dassera!

Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration

We are very happy to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in this month.

September is a very eventful month. We are very happy to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in this month. We will be praying to ‘Vighnaharta’, after offering our gratitude to our Gurujan-our Teachers on September 5th. Then we move on to observe ‘Deaf Awareness Week’ which will be celebrated from Sept 24th to 30th worldwide. On 30th Sept, ‘International Day of Sign language Rights’ will also be celebrated.

Taking into consideration all these important days, we at ChildRaise will be chipping in with our efforts to create more awareness & understanding about disability at large.

Happy New Year – A movie on Inclusion?

The other day I was surfing the channels on the TV & happened to come across the movie Happy New Year, Directed by Farah Khan, being shown. HNY boasts of an ensemble cast with Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Sonu Sood, Abhishek Bachchan,Vivaan Shah, Jackie Shroff etc. While watching the movie what struck me was Sonu was shown as having a hearing impairment, Vivaan was a gifted youth, Abhishek was from an underprivileged background & Boman Irani was shown as a person with Epilepsy!

As far as I remember, this may be for the first time that a person has portrayed Epilepsy in mainstream cinema. A person with normal intelligence (in the movie, Boman possess an extraordinary skill to open the safe/vaults) with no other associated conditions. Boman has a Tonic-Clonic / Grandmal fit just before opening the vault (probably because he was stressed?) and within minutes, he is back to normal. His friends Shahrukh, Abhishek etc. know about his condition & they also know how to handle him. Boman not only recovers from the fit but also goes on to open the much guarded safe with a difficult combination. After watching the movie, I thought, this is the closest, most real portrayal of a person with Epilepsy in a commercial Hindi movie without any brouhaha.

I thought, unless someone knew from close quarters about Epilepsy, they will not be able to portray it so minutely or do a detailed characterization of the same. I wondered if Farah Khan knew someone closely with Epilepsy. While discussing this with a friend, she said that Boman probably knew somebody with Epilepsy.

And then it occurred to me that Boman Irani has acted in an Epilepsy awareness film called “Mirgi Ki Kahani” (Story of Epilepsy) produced by Indian Epilepsy Association, Bombay Chapter. Thanks, Boman! You really tried your best to take Epilepsy awareness to mainstream cinema! The credit also goes to Farah Khan for showing people with different conditions without exaggerating them, in a film full of exaggerated storyline.

On a lighter note, as a special educator, I thought, “Wow! This is indeed an entertaining movie on Inclusion!

Kavita Shanbhag

Founder, ChildRaise Trust.

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Spring Cleaning of www.childraise.com

Let me share some good news… we have seriously taken up Spring Cleaning of our website http://www.childraise.com. We are aware that we have been putting off  this chore for a very long time.cropped-childraise_header.jpg

We- ChildRaise Trust  launched this website http://www.childraise.com in 2001. Since then, it has slowly & steadily grown in content. Many features were added, expanded but seldom any feature was deleted, entirely. It took on some new form. In 2004, we published  our resource guide “Journey to Empowerment” (JTE). When we published our 2nd Edition of JTE in 2012, we had  verified all the listings  mentioned in the guide. Roughly around 500 institutions with phone numbers, emails & websites were included in it. Later, we tried to incorporate the same data in the website. In the meantime, we took up a very inclusive step & launched our accessible website http://www.access.childraise.com. In 2011, DISHA – Disability Helpline & action no. – 1800-22-1203,   our Toll Free helpline was launched. Somewhere along the way, http://www.childraise.com had settled in to its routine life of a monthly updation with not many exciting changes. Being an Information centric website, we have over 300 odd website links, over 500 odd institutions addresses , phone nos. to check/verify. It has become a huge task because now social media links, blogs are also to be checked & added. In addition, we have 10 quick links each focusing on different aspect of disability.

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Time to shake off our inertia. We are determined to spruce up our maiden project with renewed vigour! Amen!!

This May, celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, 10th & GAAD- Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 15th.

This May, celebrate  Mother’s Day on Sunday, 10th & GAAD- Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 15th. 
 
We are in the midst of a very warm summer and in the month that warmly celebrates Motherhood and honours Mothers all over the world. This year, we shall celebrate it on 10th May. I humbly dedicate this editorial  to all mothers.

MAY is also a happening and busy month for me, with vacations in full swing and parents requesting me for extra coaching/remedial sessions so that their children can make up for the lag. During the course of my teaching sessions I have come across so many wonderful mothers. Childraise takes this opportunity to salute them through this piece. It is moving to see them struggling & juggling with their daily chores, taking their child from one therapy session to another which hardly leaves them with any time for themselves. A mother gives up her independence, freedom, so that her child can be an independent adult. She casts her aspirations and desires aside….yet her child’s smallest achievement, development fills her with pride. She is ready to go that extra mile just to see her special one smile.

So true are the following lines written in praise of them:
“The mother-child relationship is paradoxical. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent”. “A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary…”.

On 15th , we will be celebrating #GAAD- Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The dictionary meaning of “Accessibility” is  handiness: the quality of being at hand when needed. When we think of a Mother this is the first characteristic which comes to one’s mind. She is always Accessible. But to be independent in life for a person with special needs, the infrastructure, technology, websites etc. need to be Accessible. On our part we have launched Accessible version of our website- do  log on to www.access.childraise.com.
If you wish to know more about GAAD & participate in the events planned for the day, log on to www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org & use Twitter handle  #GAAD.

Akshaya Tritiya- a day to take up a meaningful activity

Today is Akshaya Tritiya. Most auspicious day in the Hindu Calendar which  falls on the third day (Tritiya) of Vaishakh month(April-May) when sun & moon both are at  their peak of brightness. It is said that any meaningful, constructive activity taken up will be fruitful.

Hence, I have decided to blog my thoughts. Many a times, these random thoughts have given birth to & shaped some of our  ChildRaise projects. e.g. http://www.childraise.com, DISHA-Disability Helpline & Action -our Toll Free no 1800-22-1203.   

I used to wonder in the past & still wonder why do we make things so difficult for people especially for people with disabilities?Even  when it is easily in our hands to make it simple.  I visit many Indian websites ( Including Govt. ones) related to disability and notice that they have only postal addresses mentioned. In today’s age, it is ridiculous not to add your tel nos, mobile no of the contact person, email or your organisation’s website address. I feel, it is complete disregard shown towards the user group. It is a waste of time & resources of parents of children with disabilities who are already walking on a tightrope to juggle all duties.

Once I remember, I inquired with an established organisation for some information regarding disability certification. That information could have been easily told over the telephone. It was a routine kind of information. But it was insisted that I visit their centre  to collect  the print out without any consideration of the distance, time & energy I would have to put in.Why not email it or scan or even courier/post  the same ?

Precisely, this was the treason why http://www.childraise.com was established. It provides information with a single click for the target group i.e people with disabilities, their caregivers etc. If you do not have an internet access, one call on our Toll free no- 1800-22-1203 which will provide the information or direct the person  to another organisation which will help them. Primarily, the  focus is to make  Information ” ACCESSIBLE ” to people with Disabilities.

P.S. When I was writing this blog post, I received a call from a parent- a working mother  who was searching for information on the internet, landed on http://www.childraise.com, found our  contact no & got in touch with me. Her concerns were dealt with.She does not have to take up long hours of  travel & see me as of now. If need be ChildRaise Walk- In Centre’s doors are always open to parents.

Happy Akshay Tritiya- Let Us wish for Eternal (Akshaya)  Brightness  to All !!Akshya Tritiya