Intellectual Disability (ID) is the type of developmental disability used to describe a person with certain limitations in cognitive functioning and other skills, including communication and self-care. These limitations can cause a child to develop and learn slowly or differently. Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders are few examples of intellectual disabilities.
The census of 2011 identifies 2.21% of a population as disabled in a population of 2.68 crores, out of which 19% are intellectually disabled. In 2015, WHO was able to successfully replace the term ‘Mental Retardation’ with Intellectual Disability, but not much has changed in terms of the support extended to such children or to the stigma attached to it. Persons with Intellectual Disabilities form part of the bottom 2% of the population in Intellectual functioning. With support and training, persons with mild Intellectual Disabilities can hold down jobs and live independently.
SAMADHAN, a 36-year-old NGO for children with intellectual disabilities, in partnership with Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, organised a half-day event in an attempt to showcase the creative side of children with intellectual ability and providing a platform for children and parents to share their experiences.
The event, ‘Challenges to Celebrations’, witnessed parents and family members of children with intellectual disabilities, share their stories, inspiring many to be courageous, resilient and persevere.
The event also involved an exhibition titled ‘Expressions’ for Intellectually Disabled Persons to display their artwork. 110 entries were received from 99 participants from Delhi/NCR, and 22 entries have been selected to be showcased at the exhibition. It also involved musical and dance performances by children with Intellectual Disability, wherein over 20 children participated.
The highlight of the event was the open forum where the mothers and the self-advocates themselves talked about their difficult journeys, their happy moments, challenges and motivating factors.
Pramila Balasundaram, Founder, SAMADHAN, said “The most marginalized group of people/children in the world are those diagnosed with intellectual disability. Inclusion is the buzz word today with reference to disability. But we must realize that inclusion does not stop at the school gates. It should be inclusion in the family, the community, in society, at the workplace. This demands that we see them as people first, and that like all of us they also need opportunities to optimize the skills they have. So our aim in organizing C2C is to create awareness on what the intellectually disabled can do, given a canvas to paint their stories in whatever medium that suits their skill sets to converting their challenges to expressions of feelings and emotions.”
Pradeep Nair, Regional Director, Ford Foundation, said at the event, “the work that is closest to our heart is the one we do in our own neighbourhood. It is for the longest time that we are supporting organisations like SAMADHAN. Every single time, we still feel humbled when we realise how much work and dedication goes behind such organisations .”
In order to encourage the participants, certificates of appreciation were given out to the all the entries at the exhibition; and those artists whose paintings/drawings were chosen for display were given gifts and a booklet featuring their work.
“I feel so good to see my son participate. This is for the first time he has got an opportunity to be a part of any such event. We have been coming to SAMADHAN for last 6 years”, says Barkha, a parent.