While our efforts for skill development and better education for the differently abled youth started producing positive results, we could identify the substantial need for empowering them into income generating jobs. Government has reserved 3% of jobs for the differently abled category – but this does not fully respond to the needs of people from marginalised communities with low levels of education.
Differently abled persons find it very difficult to be accepted as active and functional members of the society. Employment is a key step towards their sustainable empowerment, because it provides a sense of belonging, importance and gradually increasing independence. Being able to work and earn income is an effective way of minimising social exclusion and poverty. However, the main obstacles in achieving employment are widespread societal bias, negative circumstances (poverty and lack of skills) and physical limitations (bad health, lack of transport and accessibility).
It was such a scenario, that evoked a second phase of the Different Art Centre, under the name of Universal Magic Centre. The concept is first of its kind in India – probably even globally.
Our Mission 2021 aims to establish a Universal Magic Centre, which will help to train differently abled children to operate in an office or business environment through specially developed methods and internships, and will set the following specific objectives:
• Increased self-sufficiency to operate effectively in a work environment.
• Enhanced mainstreaming of the children into the society
• Simultaneous awareness-raising amongst the public about the differently abled children
• Increased employment opportunities by establishing an electronic roster of trained/skilled differently abled youth available for hiring by other potential employers.
Concept of the Universal Magic Centre
The Universal Magic Centre is envisaged to enhance the employability of differently abled youth through tailored skill and capacity development trainings. In addition, they would be imparted training to enhance and polish their profession etiquette and communication skills. The centre is expected to function as a training centre during the day and as an entertainment centre in the evening, which will be entirely managed by these differently abled youth. Youth who successfully pass their training program will be given a chance to take up paid internships in managing the entertainment centre.
Universal Magic Centre (UMC) will be a complete entertainment arena of differently abled artistes, including entertainment (music, dance, magic, puppet shows and shadow play) by the differently abled people. The centre would also have restaurants where families can dine. The youth will undertake the performance related activities, other functions and operations in the centre. All the tasks and day to day activities of the centre will be their responsibility through which they will emanate as stars in every sense throughout the year.
It is expected that 30 differently abled youth can be given this opportunity at one time at UMC. In short, the centre would be their ultimate world free from all external compulsions where they can experiment, create and devise their skills in the best possible manner. To give them wider opportunities, a roster of trained and skilled differently abled children will be available for potential employers who wish to employ the differently abled persons.
The core of Universal Magic Centre is to fully empower differently abled children through employment. A monitoring framework to assess outcomes is provided below.
Associated indicators will be developed for each dimension. Through education and training at the Different Art Centre, they would graduate to the Universal Magic Centre, where they would start with hands-on job training. This would eventually lead them to take up suitable jobs at UMC.
"I congratulate Gopinath Muthukad and his team for exploring the hidden talents of these differently abled children. The use of magic to bring out the inherent talents of these disabled children was a creative way of telling the world that they are not differently able or disabled but specially abled and they could achieve wonders."
Dr. Mohammad Hamid Ansari
Former Vice-President of India