‘Special Mom’ Forum
When we conceptualized the ‘Special Mom’ advocacy program back in 2016, our overarching vision included the desire to start a transformation from deep within the human psyche – a transformation in the way our society considers and responds to a special section of people close to our heart – ‘special’ children and their families!
The Special Mom Awards was only the beginning of a modest but potentially powerful type of advocacy that would bring to light the heroic nature of families living with their ‘special’ children and refusing to take the easy way out by abandoning them. Such heroism comes with daily sacrifice that often goes unnoticed. In our society today, families of ‘special’ children – more especially the mothers, are often misunderstood, discriminated against and judged. Some are even ostracized from their communities! Instead of fixing the problem the tendency is to fix the blame, and almost always this falls on mothers and their children even though the children are the innocent victims in the whole scheme of things.
Which is why we created this unique award – because women who brave the odds for the sake of their ‘special’ children are true unsung heroes to us, and we wanted to give them the honor they truly deserve by recognizing and supporting them through the program.
But our vision doesn’t stop here. We have set up the SPECIAL MOM FORUM whose main purpose is to empower the mothers into becoming powerful agents of change in society. Each year’s finalists automatically become members of the Forum.
At this stage, we know not where our vision could lead us, but we do know that together with the right allies – like the mothers and their extended families – society can be transformed into becoming more inclusive and to respond with respect to all its members – more especially, vulnerable children.
The Forum convenes
The Forum of Special Moms met for the first time on December 16, 2017. The Forum was officially launched by Mr. Joseph Ravi – the District Differently Abled Welfare Officer, Chennai. In an all-day program from 10.30 am to 4.00 pm, leading professionals in their fields took sessions that were tailored to cover issues faced by families of ‘special’ children.
The sessions included:
- Government Policy & Schemes for the Disabled – conducted by Mr. Joseph Ravi – District Differently Abled Welfare Officer (DDAWO), Chennai
- Government Resources & Entitlements for the Disability Sector – conducted by Mrs. Sheeba, Speech Therapist & Audiologist, State Resource Training Center (SRTC)
- Women’s Health and Stress Management – conducted by Dr. Sumitra, President of the Tamil Nadu Woman Doctors Association
- Psychiatric Disorders in Mental Retardation – conducted by Dr. Mythiri Manoharan, a leading Psychiatrist from Kilpauk Medical Hospital
- Legal Counsel concerning Wills & Probates – conducted by our Founder Iyyappan Subramaniyan who is also an Advocate
Our Aim: Empowerment through Knowledge and Collective Strength
‘Knowledge is power’ and utilizing that knowledge to transform our own lives and the lives of dependent members is the first step to freedom. As more and more ‘special’ families draw on the support provided by the system – and lead others to do the same – we believe that inclusiveness will become pervasive.
We are truly excited about the opportunities that this unique Forum might create for itself and for ‘special’ children in our country. We believe that these children can become a part of mainstream society and do wonderful things – but it requires focused strategy and collective strength. Of course, such a dream cannot materialize in a day, but Sri Arunodayam and the Special Moms and their families have begun the process by which this aim can be achieved.
Mr. Joseph Ravi
[District Differently Abled Welfare Officer (DDAWO), Chennai]
Mr. Iyyappan Subramaniyan
[Sri Arunodayam’s Founder & Managing Trustee]
The Special MOM Forum is a unique space for mothers of special children. It brings them together to collectively fight for their children’s rights and welfare. The Forum mitigates the feeling that they are all alone and ensures their due recognition from society. This program has the potential to transform the lives of mothers of special children and ensure that no child is abandoned due to a lack of support and care.