October 8, 2015
Two things prompted multiple sclerosis warrior J. Swarnalatha to bring out a calendar featuring people with special needs — “I wanted the world to look at us as individuals with abilities and see beyond our physical ailments. And, I want them to give a thought to the infrastructure-related problems we face.”
That is what makes “I’m Special”, which releases on Friday, very special. The calendar has been created by Swarga Foundation, started by Swarna and her husband T.S. Guruprasad in 2014. It works to provide support for those with neurological disorders. They also organize cyclothons and workshops for making candles, fashion jewellery and puppets.
Proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go towards funding the purchase of a disabled-friendly van fitted with everything that will make a ride outside comfortable.
“There are so many impediments to us travelling that many just withdraw from society and lead secluded, depressed lives. Most of us have urinary incontinence. But, where are the disabled-friendly toilets? We have to monitor our fluid intake if we have to go out.
Many just give up. The vehicle we are looking at will have a chemical toilet, a ramp for the wheelchair, a stretcher… It will allow people to have an active social life. It will allow them to travel in relative comfort.”
The calendar has been created in association with That Moment Photography. People with special needs have been portrayed as achievers and goal setters. Among those featured are: wheelchair lawn tennis champion Anand Selvaraj, visually-impaired motivational speaker Sabari Venkat, special Olympics cyclist Nishant Sriram from Amaze Charitable Trust, Swarnalatha, and two children from Amrit School For Special Needs.
The calendar will be released on October 9 at GKNM Hospital. The event will feature a performance by people with special needs and a short video on those featured in the calendar will also be screened. The calendars are priced at Rs. 300 each. For details, call: 96001-52849.
What Swarga Does
Once someone is diagnosed with neurological disease, they rarely go back to the doctor — treatment costs are prohibitive. “What we do is counsel them on lifestyle changes and help them cope better. Neurological diseases are usually incurable, but we can still manage the disease and live a quality life. That’s what I want to tell people,” says Swarna, who moves around with the aid of a rollator.