CHENNAI: We don’t stop to think about climbing a few steps when we visit a public place. But what about wheelchair users? Their options for outdoor exploration are limited.
Keeping this in mind, Aditya Sharma, a 24-year-old with cerebral palsy, has come up with the initiative — Explore Differently (ED). Talking to City Express, the enthusiastic youngster, who has undergone 21 corrective surgeries, says that accessibility for wheelchair users and persons with disabilities (PWDs) has been lacking in the city. “I know the pain of not being able to travel and explore public places in the city. Accessibility is a main concern that needs to be addressed. I wanted to help and support such people and this is the first step,” he smiles.
Explore Differently is a small-scale tourism concept for wheelchair users and PWDs. “The aim is to find accessible tourist places for the disabled and take them on tours,” shares Aditya, who successfully completed his first accessible wheelchair walk at Kotturpuram Tree Park in June.
The historical studies graduate from Vivekananda College opines that the walk showed how people with limited mobility are craving to experience public places.
“We want to travel just like everybody else and visit places that are labeled ‘public attractions’. But without even a basic ramp or a makeshift plank to push wheelchairs, how will we?” he asks.
The events in ED include convenient pick up and drop points, disabled-friendly co-guests, special educators, volunteers and accessible bus with a lift mechanism.
He is all praise for his trainer Shashank, who played a major role in making his dream come true. With no sponsors to fund his project, Aditya says, “For now, we are implementing the project by ourselves and with the help of some volunteers. But we definitely need some support in the long run. It would be great it corporates come forward for this cause.”
Apart from this project, Aditya also plans to start a service called Wheelie Cabs, a cab service for wheelchair users and senior citizens. “To customise a car according to the needs of a wheelchair user would cost up to `15 lakh,” he explains. “We’re working on a ground level issue — inclusion in society. With awareness and support, we can achieve this.”
Visit Explore Differently on FB, or call Deepak Sharma (Aditya’s father) 9444 412706 for details