Urja Mart is not your common supermarket. Launched by Dr Mihir Parekh and his wife Pooja Parekh, the store is run by special children. Dr Parekh is a psychologist and a special educator who has been working with children with special needs since 2008. The husband-wife duo knows that children with special needs take time to learn new skills. But once they do they perform it as good as any other person.
They launched Urja Mart in Kandivali West to help such special children gain hands-on experience and employability. Apart from being a supermarket filled with groceries, the shop also hosts a variety of goods made by the children themselves. This includes personalised mugs, t-shirts and keychains.
Specially-abled children are a group of children in which 60% of them suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, autism and/or intellectual disability.
Specially-abled children need detailed attention for their physical and mental wellbeing. The UNESCO report ‘The State Education Report for India 2019: Children with disabilities’ states that 27% of disabled children between ages 5 and 19 do not get access to education. The number of girls with special needs report significantly less education compared to boys with special needs.
Of the 78 lakh disabled children in India, 27% have never been to school and another 12% register drop out. The same report also suggests that the Right To Education Act, 2009 should align itself with the Persons With Disabilities Act of 2016. This is will ensure a framework that will allow specially-abled children to get access to education. A good education will equip them to get good jobs. According to the 2011 Census, only 55% of such individuals were literate yet only 36% had employment.