Disability
Children from ages 5 and up submitted handmade, colourful drawings about how they saw beyond disability.

Earlier this year, Geetha VM and her husband Rathish P Subramaniam, who are parents of a special needs child saw a unique opportunity to transform their struggle to spread awareness and empathy.

With ‘Bake to Support’, the Bengaluru residents and parents of Om, who falls in the autism spectrum disorder, created a campaign which brought many people across India and the world closer to disabled and special needs children.

This year, their initiative, Supporticon, went one step ahead and hoped to redefine disability with another campaign. Called ‘ThisAbility’, the campaign went live on Supporticon’s social media page on November 28. And within just over a week, hundreds of children have responded with their artistic interpretations of why disability is ‘This Ability’.

Geetha tells TNM that they have received drawings from across India, including cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru. Some children from Sierra Leone, Dubai and US have sent their artwork too. Their youngest participant is five years old, while the oldest one is a 70-year-old man from Tamil Nadu who sent some poetry too, Geetha shares happily.

You can see some of the artworks received by Supporticon here.

Last year, Supporticon’s ‘Bake to Support’ invited people to bake a cake and share it with a child with physical and/or learning disabilities. Geetha and Rathish were driven by their own experiences with people’s perception of Om, who is now eight years old.

Supporticon’s logo - two smiling emoticons back to back, tied with a ribbon - signifies what the couple wants to do with their campaigns. “It signifies support, the same support that we need as people and that we should provide to these children. People with imperfections and disabilities should be nurtured, not isolated,” Geetha had told TNM earlier in March.

The couple decided to go from baking to drawing this year because they realised not everyone may have the ability and time to bake a cake, though they may have good intentions.

“Art is much easier that way for kids. It would also require them to do some research in terms of what they want to represent. And finally, it will give them a chance to really look beyond a person’s disability and see it as ‘this ability’,” Geetha explains.

Children at a school in Sierra Leone

All of the submissions received by Supporticon can be seen on their Facebook page. While this was supposed to be a much shorter campaign ending on December 3 (International Day of Persons with Disability), they decided to extend the deadline to December 10 after multiple requests.

Most of the submissions Supporticon received are from children without disabilities. “That could be a good thing ultimately. Because it is them we need to reach out to understand that special needs children are more than their disability. They are just like them, in need of love and acceptance,” Geetha says.