The Rotaract Club of Akash, a 28-year-old club sponsored by Rotary Club of Madras Fort, RID 3232, organised one of their annual signature projects, Punnagai. The event was an exclusive platform for children with mental and physical disabilities to exhibit their talent across various onstage and offstage events. The prime focus of the programme is to bring joy to children with special needs, says project secretary Angeline Sara Santosh, adding that the club has been organising this event since 2000.
“With the help of every club member, an initiative that started as a carnival for these young talent has developed into what it is today. For every person who has witnessed the event over the years, these children’s abilities, despite their disabilities, have served as a huge source of inspiration,” she smiles.
This year, 800 students from across 20 schools from in and around Chennai participated in the programme. Club president Dr Logeshwari led the inauguration and Ganesh Annadurai was the programme chairman. DG Ravi Raman; DRR Essaki Sekar; G Loganathan, president of the parent club, RC Madras Fort; RID 3233 DRRE Sanjana Varma and Shyamala Jayaprakash, chairperson of Asan Memorial Institutions, attended the event.
The children showcased their remarkable abilities in singing, dancing, skit, gymnastics and silambam, and the off stage events included drawing and painting. “It was heartwarming to watch the performances of the children even as they rose above their challenges,” says Logeshwari. The Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu, Villivakkam, and Dr MGR Home and Higher Secondary School for the Speech and Hearing Impaired bagged the overall trophies.
“Punnagai is and always will be a true inspiration to each of us; a lesson that teaches us to never focus on what you can’t do, instead focus on what you can do best,” says Angeline.