PADAM SHRI AWARDEE AND QUADRIPLEGIC ATHLETE BONIFACE PRABHU TEACHES A, B, C OF SIGN LANGUAGE TO CINÉPOLIS EMPLOYEES
Pune, November 26, 2016: Boniface Prabhu – Padam Shri awardee, India’s No. 1 wheelchair tennis player for years and the country’s first ever Para world-championship medal winner – is on a mission. He is leading the 3,500 KM Thums Up VEER Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) road expedition, to create awareness and sensitize people to the cause of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). During his stopover at Pune, he addressed the employees of Cinépolis India at Cinépolis Seasons Mall, Magarpatta and taught them the A, B, C of sign language. This engagement program and sign language training session was organized by Thums Up jointly with American India Foundation, which works with stakeholders to create a safe, secure, protected and healthy environment.
This was a unique occasion for Cinépolis India when employees and senior leadership team were together in the same class, learning their first lessons on a new language in the presence of Sandeep Boralkar, Director – Commercial Product Supply (India) at Coca-Cola India and AIF representatives. Boniface as the lead of the Thums Up VEER K2K expedition will meet thousands of people, students, government officers, civil society workers and sensitize them on various aspects and requirements of PWDs. He also aims to help train more than 10,000 people in sign language and host awareness programs for them.
Speaking on the occasion, Cinépolis Mr. Devang Sampat, Director – Strategic Initiatives, Cinépolis India said, “We are happy to associate with a mission which strongly advocates and helps sensitize larger communities about the differently abled people. The sign language class was a great learning experience for everyone at Cinépolis India and has set the ground for some meaningful interventions across our corporate governance model. We congratulate Boniface Prabhu in making several people realize their full potential and for inspiring them to bring differently abled to the mainstream by providing them with equal opportunities and access to employment. We wish Boniface Prabhu all the very best for the K2K journey and wish him success for his mission.”
Further elaborating on the Thums Up K2K mission, Mr. Boralkar said, “Thums Up along with its implementing partners already run the VEER campaign, which trains PWDs to make them employable. We are now focusing on the softer aspects that help integrate PWDs into the mainstream, guided by govt’s Accessible India campaign. I feel that Thums Up is an appropriate brand to undertake this mission as the brand believes that everyone has the potential within, to achieve everything they deserve and this is best articulated by its tagline – Main Hoon Toofani.”
The Thums Up VEER Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) road expedition, was flagged off on November 9, from Jammu and Kashmir. During the two weeks, the expedition has passed through Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Ajmer, Ahmedabad and Mumbai before reaching Pune. The expedition has covered 2500 KMs over 17 days, stopping at several places to attend events, meetings and sign language training classes, all aimed towards an Accessible India. Over the next three weeks, Boniface will participate in more than 40 events hosted and facilitated by India’s largest selling soft drink brand – Thums Up jointly with the American India Foundation.
Elaborating on the Thums Up VEER K2K road expedition, Boniface Prabhu said, “While we are all focused on the core issues of technology, infrastructure, manufacturing etc, I believe that we cannot make the India of our dreams if we do not leverage the skills and the potential of the PWDs. While on one hand, we need to mainstream the PWDs and create opportunities for them, on the other we also need to be sensitive to their unique requirements. Being a quadriplegic myself, the onus was on me to take this step forward. I am hoping that this expedition will help set the ground for some meaningful interventions in this space. Let us make an Accessible India, as we make our India.”
Thums Up VEER K2K expedition aims to:
As per the 2011 census, there are 26.8 million PWDs in India and only 3% of them are gainfully employed. This is unlike some developed countries where the employment rate of PWDs is 30% to 50%. The World Bank estimates that by excluding PWDs from the mainstream leads an economy loses 3%-7% of GDP realization. Thums Up VEER K2K seeks to play a role in integrating PWDs into the mainstream.
Traversing the longitudinal plane of India, crisscrossing 14 cities, Boniface will aim to finish the journey in about 30 days involving over 200 hours of driving time. The expedition is also being supported by Being Human Foundation, Times Now, Indian Oil, Hindustan Coca-Cola and several others.
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