“Celebrating Beautiful Minds “
After only six months of preparation the first congress in India became reality. It took place 1-4 March 2018 in Coimbatore in Southern India. This unique event attended 75 participants from Chennai, Pune, Goa, Mumbai and local villages. The beauty of the venue, nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats, and the hospitality of the people contributed greatly to its success. The peacocks were screaming and the elephants stayed outside the fence in the forests. During the night the waiters burned fires to keep them away. It was the time of full moon and “Holi” the Indian Festival of Colors.
A rich program proposed, for instance, a panel discussion on employability with persons who are engaged in companies that train and find jobs for persons with disability. Participants gave presentations about acupressure, adaptive sports, photography, graphic design and social media marketing. Some of them presented their life’s journey and how disability made them a more beautiful person both inside and outside.
There was a fundraising concert with traditional Indian instruments and, of course, an all inclusive evening dance event. We all went together to a Biosphere Nature park of local fauna and a canopy of around 700 species of trees. The stone path was not very accessible to the wheelchair bound and a little scary for the visually impaired, but with the help of volunteers everyone made it around the park and got to enjoy the exhibits and explore the foliage.
The feedback was heartwarming as almost everyone felt happy, rejuvenated and inspired. Here is what a famous Indian newspaper wrote. Next year there will be a follow up at a different place in India.