Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Children & Disabled raise a voice for Disability Access & Sanitation in Bandra

Children & Disabled raise a voice for Disability Access & Sanitation in Bandra

·        MUSTRun organised by the H-West Federation and Wake Up Bandra.
·        More than 500 school children, Senior Citizens & Physically Challenged participate  
·        Focus on creating a Disabled-Friendly and Open-Defecation-free H-West Ward

16th February 2014, Mumbai. The H-West Federation and Wake Up Bandra organised the third MUSTRun this morning in the suburb of Bandra. Over 400 Municipal School children and Senior Citizens raced down a 2 km route around the streets of Bandra while nearly 100 persons with disability on wheelchairs and crutches powered down a cool sea-kissed 1 km route.

MUSTRun this year saw the launch of two important initiatives by the H-West Federation. The first one is a campaign for a disabled-friendly H-West Ward in partnership with ADAPT, formerly The Spastics Society of India. Speaking on the occasion, Neenu Kewlani, crusader for accessibility for the disabled and a wheelchair user herself, said “Persons with disability find it extremely difficult to negotiate ordinary activities which able people take for granted, such as visiting a bank or a restaurant or a cinema hall or even using a toilet. Provision of access is the first change that needs to occur to make a difference to this community that constitutes such a large percentage of the population.” Varsha Hooja, Trustee & CEO, ADAPT, elaborating on the project said that the campaign would start with a disability audit in the Ward identifying institutions which do not have access facilities and then embarking on a task of enrolment of these entities to make the necessary infrastructural changes. She also mentioned that this project with the Federation was the first for any Ward in Mumbai and hoped that schools would also introduce access features for the differently abled including in toilets. 8 institutions in the Ward that have made some initial changes to their infrastructure to enable access to the disabled were honoured at the event.

Anandini Thakoor, Chairperson of the H-West Federation, said that the Federation was proud to have partnered with ADAPT for the initiative and emphasized its resolve to take the campaign to fruition. She also outlined the initiative with Borkar Polymers - a pilot project to end open defecation in a selected community in the Ward. The project envisages a mobile toilet solution that will address the issue of sanitation access as well as circumvent the problem of lack of maintenance and lack of hygiene of existing stationary public toilets. Incidentally, Borkar Polymers, had provided special toilets for the disabled participants at the venue, which is arguably a first for a sporting event of this kind in the city.

Sr. Bindhu, Director of Navjeet Community Centre attached to the Holy Family Hospital, the third cause highlighted in MUSTRun, shed light on the empowering work of the organisation amongst women, children and youth in the slums of the area as well as the new initiatives taken up outside the area.

Participants at the event were regaled by the antics of some supremely agile Afro-Acrobats who performed some mindboggling stunts. The event also saw an enthralling magic show by Vinod Rawat, the only disabled magician in the world. Sporting a Jaipur foot, Vinod is an avid marathoner and trekker and combines his magic shows with motivational talks.

MLC and Mumbai BJP chief, Ashish Shelar and corporator Alka Kerkar, handed out prizes to the children. The Lioness’ Club of Khar organised special prizes for the Senior Citizens and Physically Challenged participants. Celebrity model, actor and activist Sushama Reddy, interacted with the children and the disabled and affirmed her solidarity with the cause.

For the third year running, all the waste created during the event was collected to be recycled by the Stree Mukti Sanghatana’s trained Parisar Bhagini workforce.

This year’s event was supported by The Pilates and Altitude Training Studio, The Teenager Today and St. Paul’s Institute of Communication Education (SPICE) besides numerous local institutions.

The H-West Federation is a 20 year old association of citizens’ organisations and ALMs that seeks to empower the citizens of the H-West Ward comprising Bandra, Khar and Santacruz to address civic and other issues concerning the area and align with like-minded initiatives in the city to encourage good governance and quality of service delivery.

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