Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation, in association with Firefox Bikes and Volunteer4India, organized an inclusive trekking and rappelling event in Pune, as part of our #EverydayAbility series. During the event, able bodied participants were paired with Persons with Disability (PwDs) and walked up a mountain while supporting and interacting with their partner. The trek culminated at a rappelling site. Parallelly, there was a slacklining session, where people were introduced to the sport. In addition, two of ABBF’s visually impaired ambassadors talked about living with a disability and conducted an awareness session with the group.
The event consisted of a short trek, during which the participants were paired off with people with disabilities and walked up a mountain while supporting and interacting with their partner. The trek culminated at a Rappelling site. Rappelling is the act or method of moving down a steep incline or past an overhang by means of a double rope secured above and placed around the body. It is also known as abseiling. Parallelly, there was a Slacklining session, where people were introduced to the sport; which refers to the act of walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors. Slacklining is similar to slack rope walking and tightrope walking.
We met at the base of Vetal Tekdi near Vikhe Patil School at 6:30 AM. Firefox Cyclists joined us shortly and an orientation was given to the whole group. We started climbing the hill and made our way to the rappelling site. All PWDs were paired with able bodied allies and supported them on the trek. From the PWD community we had orthopaedically challenged and blind/visually impaired participants with us. We reached the rappelling site, everyone was given breakfast. After breakfast, there was a safety related orientation and an introduction to rappelling by our instructors. Simultaneously we also had slacklining going on. We also facilitated some activities and energisers while the students were waiting for their turn to rappel. ABBF Ambassadors Ekinath and Prasad shared about living with a disability and conducted an awareness session with the group. This was followed by Question and Answer session. We ended with a closing circle and taking feedback from the participants. We trekked back to the starting point and everyone dispersed.
Raising awareness on challenges faced by PWD, their needs and the concept of inclusive and accessible facilities: We had an awareness session by our Ambassadors Prasad Gurav and Ekinath – both of whom are visually impaired. They connected very well with the group and shared about what it is like to live with a disability – the challenges and the advantages. They spoke about employability, travelling as a disabled person, marriage, education, the struggle to be accepted amongst the mainstream, accepting of one’s own disability and coming to terms with it etc. Whilst discussing Employability, they enlightened the group about the challenges of finding a job as a person with disability, challenges of work places that are not inclusive, vocational skill sets and abilities, and occupational capabilities of persons with disability.
We successfully managed to expand the notion of ability/disability in people’s minds. They went back with a new perspective. They connected very well with our PWD participants. The event was well timed, and there were no medical mishaps of any kind. Everyone returned safe and having learnt a lot. Feedback received was positive.