Converting a disability into an opportunity needs a considerable amount of will power. Simon George, Founder and Promoter of Specialcare Holidays, who has been wheelchair-bound for the past 30 years, is one such ‘strong’ person who leads a challenging yet fruitful life. A vocal advocate of differently abled people, Simon sets a model for similar
Converting a disability into an opportunity needs a considerable amount of will power. Simon George, Founder and Promoter of Specialcare Holidays, who has been wheelchair-bound for the past 30 years, is one such ‘strong’ person who leads a challenging yet fruitful life. A vocal advocate of differently abled people, Simon sets a model for similar social enterprises and their promoters. A travel operator for the differently abled, Specialcare Holidays was started in 2017 by organising a backwater cruise for more than 30 differently abled persons in a first-of-its-kind initiative in the tourism sector.
Wheelchair-bound Simon George, with his sheer will power has set up Specialcare Holidays, a travel operator for persons with disabilities
The venture, which focuses on promoting ‘Accessible Tourism’, has introduced a new business idea as well in the tourism sector of Kerala. The Department of Tourism has already found immense scope for accessible tourism, where Simon plays the role of a pioneer. Whether it is a domestic or international tour package, Specialcare is at the forefront in providing best quality service to all differently abled travellers. Simon has also submitted a report to the Department of Tourism on how to make tourist spots differently abled-friendly. “For me, there were only two choices: survive or surrender. And I chose to survive and so here I am,” says Simon who was paralysed neck down after suffering from a bout of fever during his engineering study. “The biggest challenge was to keep my mind away from the tragedy that befell me,” he says.
Understanding the limitations faced by the differently abled in India, Simon decided that he had to do something to empower them. “I started organising matrimonial meets for the differently abled to find them suitable life partners. Mass marriages, job fairs, exhibitions, seminars, cultural programmes, workshops and sessions for providing legal assistance are some of the events that I had organised,” he says.
The spirited man went on to organise an awareness campaign named ‘Barrier-Free India’, which was aimed at ‘making India accessible for persons with disabilities.’ Simon submitted a memorandum to the UPA Government in this regard. “It was this memorandum that prompted the government to come out with a policy that made ‘accessible rooms’ mandatory in star hotels,” says Simon.
Specialcare Holidays’ project advisory cell is instrumental in providing consultancy and project management services to other stakeholders of the industry. They are also involved in ‘Accessible Construction’ which helps upgrade existing accommodation facilities to meet the needs of their clients. The ‘pick and drop’ facility is another major advantage that allows them to travel all over Kerala alone. “We have a set of trained coordinators and sign language interpreters who can put our clients at ease and ensure their safety,” he says.
Specialcare will soon open its branch in New Delhi, providing an opportunity for travellers from North India to enjoy hassle-free holidays. “Being a differently abled person myself, they are pretty confident about the safety measures I offer them. I know their problems better than anyone else. What I feel will be comfortable for me of course is acceptable to them, too,” he assures.
For more details, visit www.specialcareholidays.com