Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) of Children with Disabilities

In order to empower the targetedchildren with disabilities numbering 526 and to enable their family members of rural villages and urban slums of Puri, Open Learning Systems with the support of Adoptionscentrum, Sweden has provided adequate and appropriate support in terms of inclusive education, therapeutic intervention, assistive devices, surgical correction, counseling to children and their parents, and legal support for availing benefits meant for children with disabilities from the government at state level and central level.

To a large extent the project has achieved one of its major objectives of inclusive education for children with disabilities through the unrelenting efforts and commitment of the project personnelin one block of Puri district and urban slum locations of PuriMunicipality. The project personnel have identified and provided support through networking, creating awareness and training for a number of children with disabilities to get education services in the mainstream schools. OLS has conducted training for ICDS functionaries to develop their capacity to work with children with disabilities. In order to cater to those children with disabilities who can neither go the AWC nor the mainstream schools, OLS has been running four resource centers that focus on early intervention services.

The project aims to and has achieved another major objective of bringing in substantial change among the parents of children with disabilities through establishment and functioning of parents support groups at the Gram Panchayat level and an association at the block level, networking of two parents associations with State level associations. Parents support group exchange ideas and information in the regular meetings of the association. The attitudinal blocks among parents have reduced and they are now coming forward to demand the rights of their children. Economically weaker parents have become self-sufficient through the support of the Self Help Groups.

Inclusive Children’s Clubs are the most vibrant among the groups that the project has established. The members have been discussing the rights of children in their group forums, a few of them are taking up the issues of children in the adult forums like Village Development Committee and Parents Support Groups. During the training on Children Citizenship and Governance they have responded with unexpected understanding and clarity of thoughts with a number of solutions to support a child in need of care and protection at community level. They have been given training in mapping of their villages with emphasis on the vulnerable situation of children. Children’sClub members are also taking the lead in interacting with district level functionaries during District level interface programme.

Parents’ support groups comprising of parents, educators, leaders and members of the community are striving to provide resources to parents of children with disability to enable the children to get opportunities to lead productive, meaningful and fulfilling lives. Their families have also access to simple, basic skills and low cost equipment. Through the project initiation, family members have also got opportunities for vocational training within the state. The family members have started appreciating the inner strength of the children with disabilities. Even if a child is severely disabled, now he or she is being taken better care by the family members and the whole community. The community members are also deriving satisfaction by helping other families with similar challenges. The emphasis is given on dissemination of information, demystification, capacity building, training and orientation.

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