Insensitive photo-ops by those in power need to be a thing of the past.
Kids are so sweet, so innocent. They don’t realise when they are being used, they don’t understand what is happening when they are simply photo-ops, when one disabled child is as good as another.
What no kid needs is a wheelchair designed for a generic adult. Here’s how ridiculous that looks:
This child’s head is leaning against the chair’s arm rest!
We don’t expect every child to wear the same size shoes and we wouldn’t dress a five-year-old girl in a 16-year-old boy’s clothes. Yet for wheelchairs: “Hey! Whatever!”
A wheelchair is a disabled person’s ticket to ride. It’s her mobility. It’s his freedom. Hey, Mr Chief Minister, it’s got to fit. And it’s got to feel right and look good. And because it’s an extension of a person’s body, it should not come with a “Donated By” tag as if it actually belongs to the chief minister or the State Bank or the Rotary Club or whichever company paid for it.
If you really want to celebrate with people who need wheelchairs, how about planning in advance? Ask those people themselves what they need because they know exactly what will work for where they live and what they want to do.
So from now on: don’t give disabled people a chair ten sizes too big or one with wheels meant for tarred roads when they live in a village. It makes you look silly and it angers a potential voter.
And if you left your birthday planning till the last moment (again), just give cash. Give those disabled people an envelope with a cheque inside as if they are sensible citizens who know best what they need.
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About the Author
Jo McGowan Chopra is American by birth and a writer by profession. A mother of three, she has lived in India for the past 34 years with her Indian husband. She is co-founder and director of the Latika Roy Foundation, a voluntary organisation for children with disability in Dehradun. She blogs at www.latikaroy.org/jo.