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Walking towards hope

R Sriram Srinivas, who has multiple disabilities—mental retardation and spastic diplegia—takes a breather during his yoga session at home. P Settu, his yoga therapist, who has been teaching Sriram two years now, says that Sriram used to be inattentive and restless, but now follows instructions well and has mellowed down significantly.  



Images and text by Naveen P M

Walking towards hope (2/9)

M Vanitha, Sriram's teacher, helps Sriram wear his dance apparel before the start of the 'World Differently Abled Day Cultural Programme' at Don Guanella Special School in Chennai. Due to Sriram's condition, simple tasks such as putting on clothes can become a chore and he often ends up needing some assistance. 


Walking towards hope (3/9)

Sriram rides his bicycle—fitted with a custom-made backrest—flanked by special education teacher, G V Arumugam. Arumugam has known Sriram for 15 years and was initially hired to teach him basic reading and writing skills. On Sriram's parents' request, he started to assist Sriram in walking and then taught him how to ride a bicycle so he could improve his muscle tone. 

Read Sriram's story here


Walking towards hope (4/9)

R Devi helps Sriram read a clock at Sai Sri Ram Training Centre. Sriram has difficulty reading and writing even basic words, and has a hard time grasping universal concepts such as time, date, and money. Devi is Sriram's favorite teacher. Sai Sri Ram Training Centre has eight students with special needs, two teachers, and a domestic help. The school functions from 10 am to 3 pm and keeps the students busy with a plethora of activities such as coloring, computer games, and yoga.


Walking towards hope (5/9)

M R Karthik, physical trainer, subjects Sriram to one of the many "balancing exercises" to improve his balance and correct his "scissor gait". Karthik has been training Sriram for the last two years. "In the beginning, Sriram could hardly stand for a minute on his own and displayed a lot of traits commonly seen in persons with Intellectual Disability (ID), such as lack of eye contact, droning, drooling...," says Karthik.

Read Sriram's story here


Walking towards hope (6/9)

Sriram and his classmates from Sai Sri Ram Training Centre perform to a medley of Bollywood songs at the 'World Differently Abled Day Cultural Programme' held in Don Guanella Special School, Chennai. P Dharani Kumar, a professional choreographer, composed the dance moves for this performance. He visits the school every weekend to teach dance to these students. "Sriram usually has trouble recollecting and executing my dance moves but he stepped his game up through some spontaneous moves," he said. 

Read Sriram's story here

Walking towards hope (7/9)

Sriram is ecstatic after receiving a silver medal for the Standing Long Jump event. His driver, D Alvin (right), and Sriram's mother, R Vanitha, gather around to congratulate him, at the Special Olympics Sports Meet held on YMCA Grounds, Chennai. Sriram shares a special bond with Alvin and the two can often be seen engaging in healthy banter. 


Walking towards hope (8/9)

Sriram does a lap of backstroke at The League Club, Chennai. His parents introduced him to swimming at the age of seven after a doctor suggested hydropathy as treatment. Sriram has been training under U Sathish Kumar, swim coach for children with special needs, for one year now. Sriram won four gold medals in as many events at two swim meets for para-athletes held last year in Tamil Nadu.


Walking towards hope (9/9)

Dr J Paul Devasagayam, Area Director, Special Olympics Bharat, Tamil Nadu, reviews Sriram Srinivas's progress with his mother, R Vanitha, during one of their monthly meetings at his 100-square-foot office in Purasawalkam, Chennai.


World Health Day observed at NIMHANS

- April 10, 2017

“The concept of 'Lets Talk' is multipronged, we should not only encourage people to talk about depression but also listen and understand when shared with us,” said Ratan Kelkar, mission director of National Health Mission, who spoke at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences on Saturday.

NIMHANS observed World Health Day on Saturday, where the topic of discussion was this year's theme – depression. A panel discussion was held on depression with medical experts from several disciplines such as oncology, cardiology, gynaecology, diabetes and endocrinology along with child and adolescent psychiatry, yoga and psychiatric social work. Dr Lingegowda, director of Kidwai Institute of Oncology spoke about how it can be extremely stressful for patients when they come to know of cancer and this makes them prone to depression.

Dr Latha Venkatram, obstetrician at Rangadore Memorial Hospital, said that new mothers who have recently migrated to Bangalore find themselves socially isolated and often report signs of depression. She also said a lot of obstetricians do not recognise mental health issues and called for integrating psychosocial interventions for pregnant women.

Depression is very prevalent among persons with tuberculosis, said Dr Shashidhar Buggi, director of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases. He said that institutions need to collaborate with mental health services for better treatment of TB patients. Speaking about expression of depression being different in children, Dr John Vijay Sagar of child and adolescent psychiatry, NIMHANS mentioned how children are unable to voice their feelings and show behavioral signs of depression that parents need to identify and seek help for. Dr Shivarama Varamabally, additional professor of psychiatry, NIMHANS, said that yoga and ayurveda look at strengthening the brain tissue to function better and thereby fight depression, unlike medication that focuses on fighting the physiological symptoms.

The panel also included Dr Rajendra P Joshi, senior chief medical officer of the central government health services, Dr Priya Treesa Thomas, assistant professor of psychiatric social work, NIMHANS. Ashish Satpathy, Regional Team Leader of South India, World Health Organisation and Ratan Kelkar, mission director of National Health Mission spoke on the occasion.

In the second part of the program, actress Deepika Padukone called out to everyone to join hands and spread awareness and help the society overcome mental health issues. State health and welfare minister KR Ramesh Kumar spoke on the effect of nuclear families and urbanization are causing distress among people and leading to mental health issues. Union minister for parliamentary affairs Ananth Kumar said that about 6% population is suffering from depression due to physical illnesses, relationship issues, loss of loved ones and it is an important health issue to be taken care of.

State minister for medical education Dr. Sharanaprakash Rudrappa Patil, state minister of transportations Ramalinga Reddy and chief health secretary Shalini Rajneesh  were present at the occasion.

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