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: Bhavya S Hrivastava, Divanshi Kalra, Mehak Gupta, Priya Mundhra
Staff Advisors : Dr. Mahesh Panicker , Ms. Neelam Malhotra, Ms. Karuna Rajeev
Society Email Address : firstname.lastname@example.org
A video of the Ted Talk by Ms. Muniba Mazari was shown on 7 September 2015 in order to sensitise the student body towards the difficulties faced by individuals with physical disabilities followed by an informal orientation for its members and volunteers on 17 September 2015. The event aimed to facilitate interaction between the members and the buddies assigned to them. The multitalented team of REACH engaged in various activities such as singing, dancing, dramatics and even sharing a personal experience.
As a step towards breaking the “political correctness” associated with disability, REACH LSR organized an interactive session with Ms. Shivani Gupta on 29 September 2015. Ms. Gupta is the author of the book No Looking Back and founder of AccessAbility, India’s first Access consultancy. Ms. Gupta engaged with the audience on various aspects of disability, facilitating a conversation by giving firsthand accounts of people associated with disability. REACH also initiated a platform for helping visually impaired students to learn basic computer skills by initiating weekly computer classes conducted by Mr. Mahesh S. Panicker which started from 1 October 2015. In addition to this, Computer classes were organized by the National association for the Blind in summer. Ms. Prema, manager of the resource center was equipped to use all the special softwares and hardwares used by individuals with visual impairment.
In its quest to break social barriers, integrate communities and build an inclusive society, REACH celebrated the World White Cane Day on 15 October 2015. World White Cane day recognizes the role the white cane has played in enhancing mobility and freedom of the visually impaired persons. It is a day that celebrates the achievements and triumphs of persons with disability. REACH took this opportunity to build a platform to understand, comprehend and sensitize the larger students’ community about disability. Three Movies – The Commute which follows the arduous journey of a father confined to the wheelchair who tries to reach home using public transportation for his daughter’s birthday, Notes on Blindness which captures John Hull’s journey of grief, acceptance and renewal after losing his vision and lastly Disabled Athletes or Super humans which celebrates the achievements of persons with physical disabilities in sports were screened.
Apart from this, REACH organized Health and Eye checkups for students with disabilities in collaboration with KPMG at Fortis hospital. Members of REACH also had an interactive session with a group of students from Western Sydney University, Australia who visited Lady Shri Ram College for Women on 29th October 2015. They were introduced to the flagship programmes and facilities provided by REACH. The volunteers of the Society gave a first-hand account of their contribution to the Buddy Programme. This interactive session was a testament to the fact that in spite of India and Australia being two different places, which are so diverse in their unique way, people come together when it comes to achieving the goal of creating an inclusive society.
In an attempt to make TARANG, the cultural fest of LSR more inclusive REACH organized an inclusive event, ‘Test a Taste’ in collaboration with the informal events team and NSS LSR on 5 February 2016. Students were required to guess the ingredients that they tasted while they were blindfolded. The events saw participation of students with disabilities from different colleges and NGOs associated with LSR such as Muskaan&Foursteps. The participants from these NGOs aced the competition.
‘Antarchakshu’ is the annual Flagship Event of the Xaviers Resource Center for the visually impaired, St. Xaviers,Mumbai. LSR has been associated with the event since it happened for the first time in Delhi in 2012. Antarchakshu 2016 focused on Accessible technology and employment for individuals with disabilities.In 2016, Members of REACH went to get a first-hand experience of the event. The event was a great learning experience. The event emphasized on the fact that products, infrastructure, services are used by all, and need to be accessible for all. This includes persons with disabilities. The event included activities, which gave people the experience of not having vision and where they were made to do regular day activities but while being blindfolded. This not only helped them understand the challenges faced by visually challenged but also motivated them to create a more accessible society. The members were made aware of the various support and training initiatives which included assistive technology like screen readers, magnifiers, OCR systems, refreshable Braille systems, low vision aids, and other daily use appliances and much more. The event concluded with a session which involved spending personal time with a blind person who has achieved a lot in their career. Members shared their life struggle, talked about how accessibility is increasing but still a lot needs to be done and also about the little things we can do to make society more inclusive.
In an attempt to throw light on the multifaceted nature of social exclusion associated with disabilities, REACH organised an interactive session on 17 March 2016. The speakers were Ms Merry Barua, founder Action for Autism and Mr. Nipun Malhotra, co–founder Nipman Foundation. The session was moderated by Mr. Mahesh S. Panicker, Convenor, REACH. The event was organised as a lead up to Parwaaz, the annual cultural fest of REACH. Mr. Nipun started the session by talking about how individuals talk about diversity being beautiful yet fail to accept and appreciate disability. Ms Barua explained the process of marginalization. She further spoke of the nature of social exclusion experienced by individuals with invisible disabilities such as autism and the need for inclusion to be present in all forms. Students put forth a wide range of questions ranging from disabilities in rural areas to the kind of efforts that individual with disabilities can make to make things better. The session gave new insight into the nature of social exclusion associated with disabilities.
On 9th April 2016, REACH organised ‘Mobility Training Workshop’ in collaboration with Saksham and IIT Delhi.
Students were given training in usage of Assistive Technology especially ‘Smart Canes’.
On April 16, 2016 REACH organized Parwaaz, its annual cultural festival which invited participation from person with disabilities across the colleges in Delhi. Parwaaz hosted four events this year namely, Quiz, in collaboration with the Quiz Society LSR, debate, talent hunt and creative writing. The talent hunt was an event wherein students could come and present their talents. It primarily had three categories that were dance, music and one act play. Apart from them there was a fourth category called miscellaneous wherein talent apart from the above three categories could be showcased.
The judges for Talent Hunt were Swarpa Malhotra, an Indian music teacher, Divyanka Shekhawat, alumni of LSR and Maitari Mandal, Assistant professor at LSR. The Creative Writing event saw massive participation from a number of enthusiastic budding writers. The prompts were philosophical from-'Fall seven times, rise up eight' to witty Hindi idioms. The writing was impressive-prose and poetry alike, with the judges gushing over how eloquently the participants had expressed themselves.The judges for this event were Sarika Pandey and Leslie Kumar both being the faculty members of LSR. UMANG, the quiz event organized by REACH in collaboration with the Quiz Society LSR, was a two round event. The event required at least one of the participants in a team to be a person with disability. The first round was a pen and paper round. The subsequent round involved participants to vocalise their answers. The quiz involved questions on varied areas which made the participants wear their thinking caps and thereby held attention of both the participants and the spectators.
This was the first time Parwaaz held a quiz event to provide a medium of showcasing the knowledge of persons with disability. The topic for the Parwaaz’s debate competition was- This house opposes the usage of the term 'differently abled' instead of 'persons with disabilities'. The judges for the event were Mr. T. Kannan and Mr. Leslie Kumar. Participants from various college showed great enthusiasm and helped in making the event a success. The four events along with the energy and support of the society’s staff ads, executive body and volunteers made Parwaaz 2016 a huge success.