"Not many people want to visit these homes because they think of mental disability as an illness which is not true," says Mohini Sriram of Chennai-based Bala Vihar.
Bala Vihar runs two homes for children from economically weaker sections who suffer from mental disabilities.
And to spread the message on the importance of mental well-being and acceptance of individuals with mental disabilities, the organisation will be holding an awareness walk at Besant Nagar beach on December 10, Sunday.
"Children with mental disabilities have lower IQ levels and some of them have associated disabilities like cerebral palsy or walking or hearing problems. But, apart from that, they are just like other children who have the same feelings. And given the right amount of love and affection, they can perform basic functions that they otherwise would not have been able to," Mohini says.
Persons with mental disabilities also face a lot of stigma, but those who come from financially disadvantaged families have it much more difficult figuring and finding the right help.
"What we find is that many such children are not brought to a proper facility or home where they can be trained and taken care of. If they are given proper training, they can perform certain functions and may also be able to contribute to society," she adds.
The walk, which will attended by children of Bala Vihar as well Chennai residents, will begin at 7am at Besant Nagar Beach and will end with a street play.
Bala Vihar has been functioning for 70 years and at present looks after 150 children. It first trains children for basic life skills following which they are further trained in skills they have an aptitude for.
It has two facilities, one in Kilpauk and the other in Veppampattu.