REACH, an acronym for Reaffirming Equity, Access, Capacity and Humanism, is an initiative that was created at LSR with support from the Foundation for Academic Excellence and Access (FAEA) in 2002. Through REACH we seek to address the challenge of building an informed and engaged community by preserving the multihued canvas of coexistence in society. REACH is a change agent that empowers students with social and economic disadvantages by creating access and opportunities, by giving scholarships to students with potential and engaging in activities that are experiential and trans-disciplinary such as workshops, training programmes and field trips. REACH offers a dialogue-oriented, liberating and heterogeneously sourced palette of activities to spur young minds on in their quest to excel while nourishing the notion of leadership. It brings to a space of privilege the rich experiences of the triumph and challenges of people who have broken barriers of sex, race, caste and social location to access the best in education.
Coordinators: Prachi Singhvi, Sumi Verma, Aparna Sachdev, Vaidehi Parameswaran
Staff Advisors : Dr. Mahesh Panicker , Ms. Neelam Malhotra, Ms. Karuna Rajeev
Society Email Address : firstname.lastname@example.org
REACH organized various events throughout the year with the aim of providing an inclusive platform so that students could build capacity while being part of a community that celebrates difference and diversity.
Representatives from KPMG came to visit the visually impaired (VI) persons who use Swalambhan, Resource Centre, Flat no. 10 on the 23rd of August 2016. The agenda of this meeting was to acquaint the newly admitted VIs with the state of art technology available at LSR for them. The representatives along with the already existing users of the resource centre, that is, the second and the third year VIs made the new comers comfortable around the resource centre.
A Mobility Training Workshop this year was held on 27th august 2016. Mr. Anil Kumar from National Association of the Blind conducted this workshop on the importance and use of the White Cane for the visually impaired. Mr. Kumar divided the workshop into two parts – a theory session on mobility and a practical session to acquaint the visually impaired students with the campus. All the buddies were present with their volunteers and carefully followed what Mr. Kumar said. In the end, however, he mentioned that there have to be multiple sessions on mobility for the students to be able to move around independently.
REACH made a visit to Shri Ram College of Commerce and Indraprastha College for Women on 8th September 2016 and 23 rd September 2016, respectively. These visits were made primarily to observe the more disabled-friendly technology and more accessible infrastructure that these colleges have in comparison to LSR. Both these colleges have a significant number of PwD candidates for which they have myriad of facilities available and we wanted to learn about the same. The visits were about an hour long, conducted by the convenors of their Equal Opportunity Cells. We learned about various technological and infrastructural differences between LSR and these colleges, and we are looking forward to implementing these for the betterment of students with disabilities at LSR.
An informal meeting was held on the 9th of September 2016 with the students with disabilities and their volunteer buddies. They were made to sit in teams of three where each team had to do an activity that resembled the spin-a-yarn competition. Each team was given a word, using which they had to make a story and the following team had to continue the story made by the previous teams and also had to use their given word. This activity was held to increase conversations and interaction among all the members of REACH. This was also a way to strengthen the flagship Buddy Programme. The meeting was fruitful as many teams continued meeting outside the sphere of REACH to build new friendships.
The Bookshare Presentation, held on September 22nd, 2016, was a greatly anticipated event in college, and was the semester's first major event of REACH. There was a general air of excitement just before the event was to take place, especially among students who were already bookshare members or those who knew about it. REACH invited two reputed members of the Bookshare India team for the panel: Dr. HomiyarMobedji, who is the current country director of Bookshare, and Ms. ZainabChinikamwala, who is the outreach and training consultant for North India. Dr. Homiyar gave a brief about the sense, importance and usage of Bookshare and concluded by saying that in an institution like LSR where state-of-art technology is present, Bookshare should also be made an integral part of students with disabilities’ lives.
REACH in collaboration with KPMG conducted an Eye Check for students with visual disability at Shroff Hospital, old Delhi. REACH, organized a sensitization workshop on 29th September 2016. The guest speaker at the session was Mr George Abraham, Founder--Score Foundation. The interactive event aimed at not only the breaking myths and barriers that exist about the disabled in our society but to also make the disabled more aware of how they can also actively engage themselves with others and enjoy fruitful relationships.
On the occasion of White Cane Day, REACH, conducted a talk with NehaArora, the founder of PlanetaAbled. White Cane Day is celebrated all across the world on the 15th of October every year. Its aim is to convey the message that a person with disability can lead an independent life. Thus, on the 27th of October, 2016, the members of REACH gathered for an interactive session with the founder of PlanetAbled.
An informal chocolate making session was conducted on 15th February 2017, by Ms. Neelam J. Malhotra, Staff Advisor, REACH for the visually impaired students. The aim of this activity was to instill a sense of Entrepreneurship in the students. The session started with ma’am introducing the ingredients and tools of chocolate making to students, followed by batches of chocolates made by the students themselves under her supervision. This session made the students with disability understand the importance of independence and instilled in them a sense of being self-employed. The session was greatly appreciated and hence was carried forward by the coordinators in the Residence Hall as well.
REACH, in collaboration with KMPG organized a one day trip to Pratapgarh Farms on 18th February 2017. The trip was for the students who use Resource Centre. This trip was long due as it was planned a few years back and was finally held this year. Pratapgarh Farms had a plethora of activities for the students with disabilities. Along with the activities it also provided a chance for all the students and teachers to catch-up and take time out from their hectic college schedules. This trip was thoroughly enjoyed by one and all. And these trips continue to feature as future goals for next set of student coordinators.
As a part of pre-parwaaz festivities, on 2nd March 2017, a guest lecture by Mr P. K. Pincha, former Chief Commissioner for persons with disability under the social justice ministry, was organised on the newly passed Rights of Person with Disabilities Bill (RPDB). The lecture began with a basic explanation of the background of the act and how the current act is much more nuanced in terms of categorising people with disability. It further dwelled on the structure of the act followed by some special provisions for people with benchmark disabilities. This act articulates the civil and political rights of PWD along with the social aspects.
Pre-Parwaaz began on the 7th of March by screening the movie named The Theory of Everything. The purpose of screening the movie was again to increase interaction among members of REACH by discussing the issues taken up in the movie. This particular movie was screened to make people more accepting of their disability. After the screening a short discussion by the coordinators and the audience took place which included the parallelism between the aim and vision of REACH and this movie.
REACH organized a panel discussion on ‘Discrimination through the lens of Gender and Disability’ on 9th March 2017. The panel discussion was held on the occasion of International Women’s Day which is celebrated worldwide on 8th March every year. Aimed at understanding and analyzing the process of dual oppression, the panelists included famous disability rights activists Ms. Abha Khetarpal Maurya and Ms. Japleen Pasricha. Ms. Khetarpal is the President at ‘Cross the Hurdles’. Ms. Pasricha on the other hand is the founder of ‘Feminism in India’—an award winning digital intersectional feminist platform that aims to develop a feminist consciousness and she is also associated with ‘Point of View’ which publishes articles for disabled females. The panel was moderated by Dr Mahesh S Panicker, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Faculty Advisor for REACH. The opening guest lecture by Mr. Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) took place on 23rd March, 2017 as a pre Parwaaz event. This “lecture” was interactive in nature, dealing with the topic of disability rights in India. It was attended by an attentive audience as well as our faculty advisor Dr. Mahesh S. Panicker, and was thoroughly informative and eye opening.
Parwaaz 2017 was held on 25th March 2017. It saw an unprecedented level of participation. It had four events- debate, creative writing, talent hunt and quiz. All the participants and the judges thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of love, care, compassion and life.
On 13th April 2017, Lord Michael Hastings, Global CSR Head from KPMG was invited to Lady Shri Ram College for Women to observe the use of the state-of-art facilities that the college has in flat number 10, Resource Centre. He was greeted by the students with disabilities who are regular users of the facilities made available to them by KPMG. He understood how the assistive technology is being made a part of day to day lives of the students. Due to paucity of time, he was there with the students for a short period of time. He was commemorated by Dr Sharma, Principal, Lady Shri Ram College with a token of appreciation. After observing the judicial use of the technology, Lord Hastings is eager on continuing the association of KPMG with LSR.