• Bringing up children with special needs always is a special task for parents, requiring loads of love, compassion, understanding, patience and perseverance. But this extraordinary effort becomes all the more challenging when parents lack adequate resources. More help for such parents and their wards is on the way. The Kalam Express, an initiative of the UT Chandigarh branch of the Indian Red Cross Society aimed at extending a helping hand to such parents, got a shot in the arm on Thursday with the launch of a second mobile educational cum rehabilitation unit for children with special needs (CWSN). The initiative is named after former President of India and great teacher, thinker, philosopher and motivator AJP Abdul Kalam.

Flagged off by Punjab Governor and UT Administrator VP Singh Badnore in the presence of local Member of Parliament Kirron Kher, Adviser to the UT Administrator Parimal Rai and Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi from the Punjab Raj Bhawan, the Kamal Express is fully equipped with audio visual and tactile teaching aids like Braille kits, toys, special Oro Motor kits, etc.

PHOTOS BY: LIFE IN CHANDIGARH

A team of special educator and a physiotherapist in the mobile unit will, by rotation, visit visually impaired, hearing and speech impaired, and mentally challenged children at their door step in Maloya, Dhanas, Manimajra, Mauli Jagran, Bapu Dham and Colony no. 4 to impart education and provide physiotherapy treatment to such special children who are unable to attend regular school.

Parimal Rai and Ajit Balaji Joshi, who are also President and Chairman respectively of the UT Chandigarh Branch of the Indian Red Cross Society, told lifeinchandigarh.com that the first Kalam Express was launched in June last year with the mobile unit being donated by the State Bank of India as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity. The service, which comes free of cost, has in this short span of a year helped 36 children join regular schools and integrate with the mainstream by promoting, developing and maintaining in them the skills required to adapt to their home environment and in a social setting.

During this period the team had identified 260 children with special needs who qualified for this assistance, and is currently catering to 168 children in the adopted city villages, rehabilitation colonies and slums, they added.

Following a request made by the mother of one of the special children, present at Thursday’s launch, to increase the frequency of the mobile unit’s visits to their doorstep, the two UT officials assured her that though the new mobile unit will replace the old one, which would be decommissioned, another new one will be added soon. This would help increase the frequency of the visits to thrice a week, they added.

The new mobile unit is learnt to be much bigger than the previous one and much better equipped with modern tools. The one to be added in the near future will be supported by the MPLADS funds.

Here’s wishing the initiative greater success.

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