Monday, January 29, 2024

The ‘Mphasis AVAS Walk For Arcause 4.0’ Focused On Advocating Inclusive Approaches For People With Disabilities

Mphasis (F1 Foundation) in collaboration with AVAS and Ethos Foundation conceptualised the 'Mphasis AVAS Walk for Arcause 4.0', a 335-kilometre walk from Chennai to Bengaluru, undertaken by Gita Balakrishnan, a 55 year old architect, aimed at raising awareness about creating inclusive environments for individuals of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

The last lap of this unique journey took place on the 28th of January from a significant location - The Spastics Society of Karnataka, a nonprofit organization formed through the shared passion of its members, committed to dedicating their lives to the well-being and advancement of individuals with developmental disabilities. Together with a group of avid runners and other supporters, Gita completed the last 5 kilometres of this journey arriving at Bangalore’s landmark Cubbon Park.

From Cubbon park, a commemorative walk ensued with the guests of honour for the occasion Mr. Arman Ali, Executive Director at National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People and Mr. Raghavendra, who became the first Indian para-fencer to bag a medal at the Commonwealth Fencing Championships. Raghavendra won the silver medal in Men's Individual Wheelchair Epee Category B (2022). Students with disabilities from the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and employees of Mitti Cafe committed to the cause of employment and livelihoods for people with special needs, the Fourth Wave Foundation and EKanksh Trust were amongst the organisations championing the cause who joined this momentous occasion. Walking in solidarity were representatives from Mphasis  (F1 Foundation), AVAS, Ethos Foundation, Indian Institute of Architects, the Council of Architecture, India, the Indian Institute of Interior Designers, students, academicians and people from different walks of life.

The gathering finally reached the point of culmination - the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), which is entirely accessible for people with disabilities. Ms. Rama Krishnamachari, who was the accessibility auditor and consultant for the museum, took people on a detailed tour of the premises focusing on the various aspects that deem a space inclusive. The program began with an invocation by children from the Spastics Society of Karnataka, followed by Mr. Srikanth Karra, Chief Administrative Officer, Mphasis addressing the audience after which Gita spoke on the intent, learnings and findings from the initiative. The discussions that followed were punctuated by a Dance by Saisha of Spastics Society of Karnataka, a recitation by children of Samarthanam and a song by a group from AVAS. The event came to a close with questions to the audience urging them to cultivate empathy and to encourage those in a position to make a difference, to ensure that their actions only uphold the Fundamental Right to Equality for all citizens around them or impacted by them regardless of abilities or disabilities.

This initiative is supported by the Indian Institute of Architects, the Council of Architecture, India, the Indian Institute of Interior Designers, Vidya Sagar and National Association of Students of Architecture. Other partners of this initiative include Saint-Gobain, Nippon Paint, TVS Ronin, Samarthyam, Wheeling Happiness, SPA Bhopal, and BVDU, Pune.

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