Sreenivasan is empowering physically challenged people to address their own capacities to access economic and social opportunities. By emphasizing on community involvement in this process, he is facilitating the inclusion of disabled people across all spaces.
Sreenivasan’s Amar Seva Sangam provides a range of services, both institutional and community based, to maximize outreach to the disabled communities in rural Tamil Nadu. The community is the satellite, where along with doorstep services, the focus is on creating a Federation of self help groups of disabled people and Parents Associations. Such community stakeholders are encouraged to take responsibility for the care and support of disabled people in their localities. Through intensive training, communities are now able to not only provide physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for those in need, but also actively work to find local solutions for both financial and vocational support for the disabled.
At the institutional level, Amar Seva Sangam offers a range of services for people with special needs, from physiotherapy to special education and vocational training. The goal of the institutional services is to improve functioning through treatment and skill development, thereby preparing people for life back in the community. Services like education and vocational training are also available for non-disabled people as well. With only around 8-10% of the clientele having special needs, Sreenivasan aims to sensitize communities to the potential of disabled people - an important strategy towards facilitating inclusion in the community.
In the past ten years, more than a 300 Self Help Groups and Parents Associations have been formed across 3 districts in Tamil Nadu. With ten ‘satellite’ centres being established across these districts, the parents groups have taken over 60% of the financial responsibility for the operation of these centres. Each centre is now equipped with a fully qualified special educator, and a few semi-trained educators as well. On the livelihoods front, the Federation has taken over savings from the common pool, and are currently giving loans to disabled people for entrepreneurship ventures. The amount in circulation has increased from less than Rs. 10 lakh, to more than 50 lakh rupees today.
A big success has been the special education model for children with special needs. Through a range of psychosocial interventions, mentally challenged children have begun to show greater functionality, and independence particularly with social interaction skills. In addition, they have been brought into regular schools where they are behaving comparably to non-affected people. Sankar propagated this model with the state level unit of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan, and today this integrated education program has been adopted in all districts of Tamil Nadu. Day care centres have been created at the taluk level, which follow Sankar Raman’s curriculum, enabling more special needs children to graduate and attend regular schools.
* This profile was updated in February, 2014. Please read on for the Election Profile