Self Expression and Leadership Project in India uses outdoor education and adventure sport to contribute to people with dissabilities
Indian Landmark Forum Graduate Mahalakshmi Viswanathans has created a project to help bring adventure sports and outdoor education to people with disabilities. Here is an article about the project from the Deccan Herald in Bangalore India.
Giving wings to their dreams
Mahalakshmi Viswanathan's purpose of setting up Wings was an attempt to give differently-abled people a chance to break their barriers through adventure sports along with helping them orient them towards making a career in eco-tourism and nature conservation activities.
Initiated by Mahalakshmi, a participant of Landmark Education’s Self Expression and Leadership programme, the project also includes participation from like-minded software professionals Nirav Rawell, Udaya Seshua, Ruby Kumari, Himanshu Sheth and Satish Hipparagi. “Adventure sport, in itself, is a way of empowering people and when we planned on initiating a community project, we decided to reach out to people who feel most disempowered either because they feel they have limitations or because society imposes restrictions on them. We felt this could be a way to help them overcome their fear and boost their self esteem,” shares Mahalakshmi.
The venture, in coordination with Nisarga, an organisation involved in adventure sports and wildlife, has set out to promote adventure sports and nature conservation for the visually challenged as well as the speech and hearing impaired. The group heard of such activities being promoted by IAMAS (Mysore) in association with Rotary Mid-town Mysore and felt a similar activity in Bangalore would be a good idea.
When they approached Nisarga for support, they received immediate cooperation from the founder Karthik G K and Ashwin Murali. The first event — parasailing at Hoskote dry lake — kicked off on August 30 with over 40 students from National Association for Blind along with other schools for the speech and hearing impaired. “The response has been good so far though we expected more participation. It’s natural for people to be apprehensive about adventure sports for the differently-abled. But I strongly feel that once you conquer your psychological fear, anything is possible,” she says.
The parasailing event will be conducted on September 1 as well at the same venue. Wings is also looking at support from the corporate sector through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme and Mahalakshmi hopes to be able to organise many more such events for the differently-abled. “What started off as a plan for one event like parasailing, has given birth to a whole new realm of opportunity for the differently-abled to participate in activities like treks, river-rafting, expeditions, nature camps,” says Mahalakshmi.
The group is looking for assistance in terms of funds as well as volunteers. Those interested can call — Mahalakshmi: 98864-03269 or Karthik: 99800-17105.