President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said differently-abled children are as efficient in handling challenges of life as other kids provided they are given support and opportunities.
Mukherjee, who was interacting with some differently-abled children on the occasion of the 67th Independence Day, said Rashtrapati Bhavan will set an example in fulfilling their needs.
"I would like the Rashtrapati Bhavan to be a model community in terms of caring for children and adults with special needs and thereby setting an example to the rest of the country," he said.
"Children with special needs are as good as any other, provided we give them support and opportunities," he said and asserted that these children need to be treated with sensitivity and empathy as they are fully capable of proving their competence.
"We must have the belief that every person is capable of learning and becoming better at whatever he chooses to do if he is given those opportunities," he said, added that the government was working hard in creating equal opportunities for differently-abled people.
Addressing the parents, he said, "They are not alone in their struggle. The whole of Rashtrapati Bhavan would be with them in their efforts to bring up their children."
President's Secretary Omita Paul said a "Respite Care Centre" was being set up in Rashtrapati Bhavan to take care of special children. In a move towards better education, efforts would be made by Rashtrapati Bhavan to ensure that every child of the school going age attends school and receives appropriate education.
"A 'Social Club' where adults or young adults with special needs can meet in an organised manner from time to time to do some activity would be also initiated," Paul said.
Noting that this is the first time an initiative of this kind was being taken, she said, "President's interaction with special children of Rashtrapati Bhavan was the beginning of a modest and humble effort to recognise the presence of the special children in the community and collectively address some of their needs."