The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has finally installed a lift at the Mahalaxmi Municipal School building. The Shraddha Charitable Trust, which runs a training centre for the autistic and mentally challenged, believes that the move is likely to encourage more students to come to the school.
Set up in 1999, the trust had been trying to convince the BMC to install the lift for six years. The centre teaches autistic and mentally-challenged students to create artistic articles and utility objects such as paper gift bags, jute and canvas bags and floating flowers. Their aim is to inspire students to feel useful and confident in spite of their disability. They currently have 45 autistic and mentally challenged students, all over the age of 21.
The Maha-laxmi Municipal School building. Pic/Shadab Khan
Dr Radhika Khanna, founder trustee of Shraddha Charitable Trust, said, “Our aim is to make our students feel as confident and useful as regular earning members of society. We focus on rehabilitation and training programmes dedicated to empowering these adults with special skills. From the sale of the articles we make at Shraddha, we grant them a monthly remuneration.”
The training centre is on the third and fourth floors of the school building, and their differently-abled students have trouble climbing the stairs. “We didn’t want the stairs to be an obstacle for those who wanted to learn,” adds Khanna. Students’ disabilities vary from having physical handicaps such as narrow chest cavities to mental disorders such as autism.
A spokesperson for the trust said, “We used to have a 56 year-old student, but he found it difficult to climb the stairs and stopped coming. The lift will encourage more students to come here.”
The lift was installed within two and half months and is now ready for use. It was inaugurated yesterday, by the Minister of Rural Development and Guardian Minister Jayant Patil.