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President celebrates 75th birthday with disabled children


New Delhi: Clad in colourful dresses, a group of disabled children put on a special performance Saturday to celebrate the birthday of President Pratibha Patil, who turned 75.

“My birthday was celebrated in a unique manner. I am deeply touched. You belong to us and I belong to each one of you,” Patil told the children.

The children, students of the Tamanna School, were also celebrating the silver jubilee of their institution. Patil also donated Rs.75,000 to the school.

The parents and the family members of the children felt proud and encouraged them as the tiny tots deftly danced to the lyrics “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky”.

Devesh and Niyati, who were compering the show, drew applause from the audience when they said: “Special children like us get strength to perform in front of you due to support from our parents and teachers. With your help, we can touch the sky.”

A short documentary was also screened which brought out the aspirations of these children. A young boy said: “I want to play football with other kids.” Another said: “I want to dress up beautifully and ride cycles.”

Shayama Chona, the founder of the Tamanna School, said: “These children have great abilities and it is only through education that they will be able to achieve their objectives.”

She called upon the government to open the doors of mainstream schools for these children.

“They (the children) should be able to observe normalcy, they should feel that there are others who exist for them. They can not cry alone and we can not laugh alone,” Chona added.

For Chona, her mission to help disabled children started 25 years ago when her new-born daughter Tamanna was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As the girl transformed into an adult, so have the dreams of many other children like her.

Though India has 70 million disabled children, there is no data base for them.

“We have 70 million differently-abled children but there is no data base for them. In the next few years I am planning to create that database,” Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told the gathering.