While reading through Reader’s Digest, I came across story of a quadriplegic (a person who has both arms and legs paralysed) Craig Cook. Though I thought it a shame that Craig’s fiance left him after he was paralysed in a car accident where his friend was driving, it was heartening to know that he could find a happy companion in Minnie, a capuchin monkey.
As I read along I realised that there are two-year training programs for these capuchin monkeys so that they can be companions to people like Craig in need. Helping Hands is the organisation that trains these capuchins and provides them as companions to the disabled. Yes, you read it companions and not pet. Here are few excerpts from this article:
When Cook applied to Helping Hands in 2001, it was illegal to have an exotic animal in a home in California. The only helper animals allowed were dogs for the visually impaired. Helping Hands went to work to have the laws changed for Cook, and in 2004, he became the first person in the state to receive a service monkey.
ADA (American Disabilities Act) now allows capuchins to accompany their companions virtually everywhere including restaurants.
More about Helping Hands
Helping Hands began in 1979 as an experimental project at Tufts University, combining rehabilitation engineering, occupational therapy and behavioral psychology. Initially, the monkeys were rescued from animal labs. Today, the program has its own breeding colony at Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts. For their first five years, the capuchins live with nondisabled foster families so they can enjoy a childhood complete with toys and tummy kisses, and interact socially with humans and household pets. In the foster homes and at Monkey College, they learn that large white dots mean “Don’t touch.” And round stickers are placed in doorways or on stoves to keep the monkeys away. “We don’t want people to lose their heirloom china just because they have a monkey helper,” says Helping Hands cofounder Judi Zazula.
Watch this NBC clip about Helping Hands, you would be surprised at the dexterity of capuchins.
You can read the entire Reader’s Digest article here. It is quire heartening.
Training for Disabled Women in India
In the last post, I was lamenting about employment for the disabled. So, I came across a beauty training institute called Shamute opened by Shanaaz Hussain for speech and hearing impaired. I was delighted about reading about such vocational training programs.
Disability in movies
Movies play a big part in creating awareness. Mahendra has written about three Indian movies that deal with disability in his post. Out of the three, I have watched only Sparsh, which I liked immensely. Other are on my to-watch list. What do you have to say about them?
Discussion: Can you think of an movie/sitcom where disabled have been insensitively portrayed? Feel feel to name those movies that deal with various aspects of disability.
I will soon post first hand experience of a reader about his work around the disabled.