Till 1995 the city of Jaipur had only one institute working for the intellectually challenged. The children with multiple disabilities had no place to go to and were left without getting proper care and rehabilitation. The crying need for help to the children with special needs was palpable.
As a response, a group of concerned and committed persons decided to start a center for special education to provide an opportunity to the children with physical and intellectual challenges to help them discover themselves and develop their potential to the maximum of their ability, to provide them suitable education & vocation and to create awareness and sensitivity among the public towards the cause of disability.
This is how Disha – A Center for special education came into existence. 15th March 1995 witnessed the inaugural Pooja of the movement called Disha.
Disha started with 17 students having multiple disabilities led by a special educator along with 4 volunteers in a small two bedroom house with a basement. The movement grew by amazing leaps and bounds, thanks to the financial sustainability provided by the Khaitan family and the magnanimity of the public of Jaipur.
After about a year, the Disha foundation was registered. As the year 1995 progressed there was a surge for admissions and the number of students grew to 100 by the year 2000. As new techniques of rehabilitation were added, the growth in the number of students continued to rise. Our initial abode in Shyam Nagar became too congested and we shifted to Nirman Nagar in a much larger building. At this time EAST, a sister concern of Anokhi came in as a large financial donor, freeing the administrators of Disha from fund raising thus helping them to devote more of their time for rehabilitation of students and advocacy of the cause. Disha formed a group calling it “The Friends of Disha” (FOD). Till today the members of this group have stood by Disha extending their help whenever necessary.
With the view to help the cause by creating trained and specialized special educators, a Diploma course was started in 2002 with recognition from Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). In the same year, Late RajamataGayatri Devi contacted & persuaded her good friend Ms. Elsa Peretti, chairperson of the NandoPeretti Foundation in Italy to consider giving a grant to Disha for building a barrier free building.
Ms. Elsa Peretti visited Disha and committed full financial support to construct a state of the art, barrier free building.
The same year the National Trust appointed Disha the State Nodal Agency Center (SNAC) for the state of Rajasthan.
With the aim to reach out to more and people, the center for special education widened its approach to be a Resource Center covering a larger gamut of services to cater to the growing needs of persons with disabilities. With the advent of the Resource Centre, the existing centers for Special Education, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and Vocational Training were strengthened and broadened. To maintain the impetus of the efforts towards quality service, the new centers of Sensory Integration and Human Resource Development were introduced. Keeping this goal in mind, the HRD carried out a series of seminars, workshops and training programs to develop a multi disciplinary approach among professionals working for people with special needs.
One of the major milestones in Disha’s journey was the starting a B.Ed. course in Intellectual Disability ( ID). This course is one of the first ever training programs in Special Education recognized by and affiliated to the University of Rajasthan.
Disha’s presence started being recognized nationally and internationally through professional networking. Professionally trained work force from different parts of the world, country and state contributed in the service delivery of the Resource Center. Interns and volunteers from all over the world joined the Center for their academic requirements, establishing collaborations with eminent Universities like Boston University of USA, NMIMS Mumbai, Symbiosis Pune etc.
In 2007 Special Olympics Bharat was one of the major efforts of Disha to reach out to the differently abled children of the state of Rajasthan.
The outcome of this major event was that Nand Kishore’s (a student in Disha) sporting ability as a skater came to the fore which motivated the Disha staff to train him further in this sport. In a span of about3 years he emerged as a world class athlete and won Gold, Silver & bronze in the Special Olympics held in June 2011 at Athens. The example was followed by AnuragRathi and Sumit Garg who bagged Silver, Bronze and Gold, Silver respectively in Commonwealth Games Australia in 2013. Once again in 2015 at World Summer Games, Los Angeles USA, AnuragRathi and CharuTanejabaggedBronz medal each.
The 15 years of our experience gave us confidence to move forward to realize our vision of service to the cause of persons with special needs. If we could detect children at risk at an early age, we knew their rehabilitation would be faster. With this objective in view, the pilot project of the early intervention program was started and carried out by a team of professionals of Disha in collaboration with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) at the Government Hospital at Sanganer, Jaipur.
As the community entered Disha through its Home Management Programs, Disha entered the community through its Community based Rehabilitation programs at Bhankhrota, Jaisinghpura, and Mahapura locations.
Disha also started a three months Mother and Child training program. This program is not only open for children in Disha but to all mothers and their children who need training.
With a view to upgrade and strengthen the training facility at the vocational training center, Disha started a program with RMoL (Rajasthan Mission of Livelihood) where children with disability were being trained for various vocational skills. The Vocational Training center at Disha continues to impart the training. Our students even earned FORHEX Award twice for their craft work.
The seed sown “To love, To understand, To help” by a handful of committed and sensitive persons has bloomed. We need your support to grow further into a sprawling tree under whose shadow all people with special needs can take shelter.
A Society with equal opportunities for all.
To facilitate empowerment of the Persons with special needs, their families and support service,