West Zone Regional Abilympics’ Skill Competitions Celebrates the Exceptional Abilities of Over 250+ Specially-Abled Participants

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Delhi: The West Zone Regional Abilympics, orchestrated by the National Abilympic Association of India (NAAI), concluded with fervour, witnessing the participation of approximately 250+ persons with disabilities hailing from diverse cities such as Pune, Mumbai, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Ratnagiri from Maharashtra and Ahmedabad, Surat, Bhavnagar, Botad from Gujarat and Panaji, Goa. NAAI has started the next cycle for the selections for the 11th International Abilympics (2027), to be held in Finland. Participants at the regional level competed in 15 skill categories, under ICT, Crafts, Food and Services. Twenty-seven outstanding participants who excelled in different skills won the gold, silver and bronze medals. Abilympics are specially designed to identify the best talent amongst the Persons with Disabilities (PwD) community, for participation in national and international competitions at a later stage.

The two-day event was a collaborative effort of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability (DEPwD), National Abilympic Association of India (NAAI), International Purple Fest (organised by Office of The Disability Commissioner, Govt. of Goa) and Sarthak Educational Trust. The competitions were organised on January 11th and 12th on the sidelines of the International Purple Fest – Goa, held at Kala Academy, Panaji, Goa. 

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) category saw 63 participants, Crafts had 113 PwD participants showcasing their prowess, Hospitality, 55 skilled individuals, and in Services 27 Persons with Disabilities (PwD) out-shined others during the competition.

The gold medalists from the West Zone included Akash Kshirsagar for ‘Waste Reuse’, Priyanka Dabade for ‘Embroidery’, Manoj Gopal Bhingare for ‘Painting’, Bhagyashri for ‘Dress Making’, Amol Karande for ‘Photography-Outdoor’, Bharti Rameshbhai Rana ‘Floral Arrangement’, Priti Diliprad Pohekar ‘Word Processing’ and more.

The Chief Guest, Dr Mallika Nadda, Chairperson, Special Olympics Bharat, shared, “We must promote greater inclusion in society for all people with disabilities, fostering acceptance, respect, and active participation. Together, let’s collaborate to empower them as valuable members, ensuring they live with dignity, recognising their abilities, and providing the support they deserve.”

Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Secretary General, National Abilympic Association of India (NAAI) and Founder & CEO, Sarthak Educational Trust, shared, “The Abilympics is not solely about showcasing skills. It is a celebration of resilience, determination and the incredible abilities that transcend limitations amongst PwDs. India made history at the 10th International Abilympics in France in March 2023, securing seven medals with a small 13-member team. Looking ahead, the international Abilympics competition held in France in 2023 saw 428 participants from 27 countries and India secured 7th position in the overall medals tally. India now aims to participate in larger numbers at the 2027 International Abilympics, Finland, continuing to highlight talent, commitment and the pursuit of excellence. Hosting of the West Zone Regional round at the International Purple Fest 2024, added an extra layer of excitement and global perspective to the competitions.”

Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) make up over 5 per cent of the country’s population. It’s crucial to provide them with skill development opportunities for employment, self-respect, and independence. The National Abilympic Association of India (NAAI), established in May 2001 by the Ministries of Social Justice & Empowerment and Human Resource Development, aims to facilitate India’s participation in international competitions like the Abilympics.

This inclusive event not only highlights the exceptional abilities of PwDs but also serves as a platform for participants to demonstrate their talents on a regional, national and international stage. The vibrant cities of Maharashtra and Gujarat were well-represented, showcasing the rich tapestry of skills from these regions, especially in the Crafts category.

The West Zone Abilympics 2024, surely outlined the abilities of individuals who took centre stage, breaking barriers and redefining possibilities.