SERVE's Development Work with Association of People with Disability

APD COVID Awareness_SERVE_India
APD's outreach rogramme during COVID funded by SERVE

About Association of People with Disability

Association of People with Disability  (APD) celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019. Through these years, APD has promoted innovation and positively impacted people living with disabilities in Bangalore, India. SERVE and APD have worked together since 2005 through advocacy, funding various projects and designing volunteering programmes over the years.

SERVE’s volunteer programme is a great support to APD, India.

One example is from 2019 when eight Irish volunteers helped play a vital role with APD in promoting people with disability (PWD) through special services. One of the SERVE volunteers Elaine Houlihan, a qualified physiotherapist used her skills to work with the physiotherapy department at APD, and her special objective was to work in hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is a treatment that involves the use of water for pain relief. The physio department, at the time, lacked specialist knowledge in this area. Elaine used her skills and knowledge in hydrotherapy to run classes for children with cerebral palsy and facilitated specialist training for the newly formed hydrotherapy team. Elaine’s work was highly regarded in APD, and she found the whole experience very beneficial and explains,

‘Seeing the impact the hydrotherapy had on the children was heart-warming. I really started to notice it when parents said it to me about the improvements they had seen in their children after only one week of sessions’ 

– Elaine Houlihan (SERVE Volunteer at APD)

Other services available at APD in Bangalore include:

  • A school for children living with mild to severe physical disability
  • A programme for children living with mild to severe learning disabilities
  • A vocational training unit – including IT, Physiotherapy, orthotics, sewing and career guidance
  • A treatment and training centre for patients with Spinal Cord Injuries – including disability management, training of family members & counselling
  • A large horticulture programme that employs people with disabilities

Origin story

Association of People with Disability

To understand APD and how it all started, we must look into the life journey of Ms. N.S Hema (1938-2016). Ms. Hema was born on October 4th 1938, in Nuggehalli village in India. Diagnosed with polio at age 5, Ms. Hema’s hands and feet were severely affected. Her parents sought medical help across present-day Bengaluru, Chennai & Mumbai. Ms. Hema was fortunate to have mindful and understanding parents who didn’t adhere to the stigma mindset.

The roots of APD can be traced back to the meetings that she used to organise, where people living with disabilities would share their experiences, talk about their hopes and problems and, more than anything else, enjoy their rare social outing. After eight months of meeting, despite the divergent aims among its members, the formal inauguration of APD took place in the form of a training centre on 14th September 1959. (Source

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