Paving the way
Pavements are commonplace, but when they are not built with care, they can almost be like a battlefield: a few steps could mean jumping over all kinds of barriers. While constructing them, one needs to cater to various types of people, including those with challenges, pregnant ladies, and old people. Only when all types of challenges are addressed can society become a better place to live in. A prime example is that of Jasmine, who turned her challenge into an opportunity to create a better world.
Jasmine Khanna from Mumbai had battled against cerebral palsy for many years. She combatted it successfully, educated herself, and is now an engineer employed with an MNC. Still, she saw that simple things like going out were a challenge, as the pavements were so unfriendly to all, not just those with challenges. She realised something needed to be done and began an NGO aptly called Access to Hope. She began this with her physiotherapist, Sanket Khadilkar, who had grappled with addressing the accessibility challenges of many who had come to him for help. He had seen that such barriers were deterring them from participating fully in society and felt that his focus as a physiotherapist shouldn’t just be on what he does at the clinic but also on working towards accessibility and a barrier-free environment.
The two of them desired to ensure that people with disabilities become independent in their day-to-day activities and improve their social interaction. For this, they work towards making Mumbai city accessible for people with all kinds of disabilities. They ensure proper education for such children through inclusive schools, provide rehabilitation services to them as well as adults (especially those belonging to the low socioeconomic background), and provide peer-to-peer counselling to motivate them to become self-reliant. Self-esteem comes with self-reliance, and this is possible only by providing an inclusive environment for all.
Above all, their mission is to make society more friendly for all, including the disabled. Towards his end, they found that pavements are one of the important areas that need to be addressed. This task may not be accomplished in a day, but with each step, there is a small improvement, be it in the smile of a child attending a class or enjoying a walk, or an adult enjoying the joys of nature in an accessible environment.
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