Boniface and the Thums Up team, meet Mr. T. Padma Rao, Minister for Sports & Youth Affairs and Excise & Prohibition, Govt. of Telangana during the stopover of the 3,500 KM long Thums Up VEER Kashmir2Kanyakumari road expedition at Hyderabad

Hyderabad, November 29, 2016: Boniface Prabhu, Padma Shree awardee; India’s No. 1 wheelchair tennis player for years and the country’s first ever Paralympic medal winner once again made a strong case for government policies that promote inclusion, empowerment and education, when he met Mr. T. Padma Rao, Hon’ble Minister for Sports & Youth Services and Excise, Telangana during the stopover of the 3,500 KM long Thums Up VEER Kashmir2Kanyakumari road expedition at Hyderabad.

Boniface Prabhu, the quadriplegic athlete who hails from Bangalore is leading the Thums Up expedition on road, to create awareness and sensitize people to the cause of PWDs. He was interacting with the Hon’ble Minister at the Nallagutta Government Girls High School, supported under Support My School Campaign Season 2, Secunderabad, where the two of them along with Hindustan Coca-Cola officials, Thums Up Expedition team and Plan India and its partner APSA had organized the annual sports tournament under Plan India’s Empowerment of Children Through Sports program.

Boniface and team Thums Up outlined the need for inclusion and accessibility for PWDs and the need to pay special emphasis on education of children in Telangana especially since Telangana is a young but fast rising state and is still shaping its policy discourse and people friendly initiatives.

The pilot sports project – ‘Empowerment of Children through sports implemented by Plan India witnessed participation from 30 children with special needs at the school in Secunderabad along with hundreds of other children. Children who excelled in the sports activity were recognized by the Hon’ble Minister, Boniface Prabhu and Umesh Malik, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd.

Overwhelmed with the participation of differently abled children in the sports tournament Mr. T Padma Rao, Minister for sports and youth services and Excise, Telangana, said, “Children shape the destiny of a society. While on one hand we need to ensure that we are providing well rounded and quality education to children, we must also provide them the right values. One of the values is the every child has equal right. Every child has a right to quality education. This means schools need to be inclusive for children with special needs, especially girls with special needs. From a very young age, children must be sensitised to the needs of the PWDs and how to encourage, include and take care of them. I am happy that Boniface Prabhu has undertaken this month long Thums VEER Kashmir2Kanyakumari (K2K) mission and has got children to participate in the Accessible India drive.
Elaborating on the Thums Up VEER K2K mission, Mr. Umesh Mailk, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, said, “Thums Up VEER K2K is an initiative which aims to bridge the gap between abled and the differently-abled. Thums Up along with its implementing partners already run the VEER campaign, which trains PWDs to make them employable. We are hopeful that this special mission will spread awareness around making India accessible for PWDs, providing a barrier free environment for specially-abled and giving them equal opportunities to bring them to the mainstream”.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. K Abhilash, State Manager, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, Plan India – Hyderabad said, “We strongly believe that schools should have inclusive education as it widens the learning technique and encourages children with disabilities to participate equally. Keeping in mind the special care required for these children in schools we have inaugurated the sports project and will continue to support the ‘Right to Education’, ‘Right to Play’ for all. We are proud to be associated with Thums Up VEER K2K mission which stands for equal rights and opportunities for PWDs. We support Boniface Prabhu for this noble initiative and are hopeful that this mission will bring about positive change in the country.”

The Thums Up VEER Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) road expedition, was flagged off on November 9, from Jammu and KashmirDuring the week, the expedition has stopped at Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Ajmer, Ahmedabad and Pune before reaching Hyderabad. The expedition has covered more than 2,500 KMs over 20 days, stopping at several places to attend events, meetings and sign language training classes, all aimed towards an Accessible India. Over the 10 days, Boniface will further participate in more than 15 events hosted and facilitated by India’s largest selling soft drink brand – Thums Up jointly with the American India Foundation a leading NGO.

Thums Up VEER K2K expedition aims to:

  1. Promote and spread the use of sign language in India
  2. Understand the aims and aspirations of the differently-abled with a view to influence public policy which is beneficial for them
  3. Create a platform for exchange of ideas and best practices between PWDs
  4. And motivate and inspire the specially abled to unleash the potential within them

Traversing the longitudinal plane of India, crisscrossing 14 cities, Boniface is aiming to finish the journey in about 30 days involving over 200 hours of driving time. The expedition is also being supported by Being Human Foundation, Times Now, Indian Oil, Hindustan Coca-Cola and several others.

About Thums Up VEER program

Thums Up along with Being Human and American India Foundation launched VEER, a Campaign focused on unleashing the potential of the differently abled people in our country. Campaign VEER aims to address challenges such as inclusive education and employment, skill training and development, and advocating for disabled-friendly technology. With the support of its partners, the campaign is working at imparting vocational training to these individuals and ascertains their requirements so that they can be made job-ready. Hans Foundation has joined hands of the campaign a strategic partner.

About Coca-Cola and Citizenship

The Coca-Cola Company has always placed high value on good citizenship. At the heart of business is a mission statement called the Coca-Cola Promise — “The Coca-Cola Company exists to benefit and refresh everyone that it touches.” This basic proposition means that the company’s business should refresh the markets, protect, preserve and enhance the environment and strengthen the community. Coca-Cola India provides extensive support for community programs across the country, with a focus on education, health and water conservation. For further information on Company’s India operations and its products, please visit www.coca-colaindia.com

About PLAN INDIA:

Plan India, a member of Plan International Federation, is a nationally registered independent child development organization committed to creating a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable and excluded children, their families and communities.

For over 35 years, Plan India and its partners have improved the lives of millions of children by providing them access to protection, basic education, proper healthcare, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.

Learn more at www.planindia.org.

About AIF

The American India Foundation is committed to catalyzing social and economic change in India and building a lasting bridge between the United States and India through high-impact interventions in education, livelihoods, public health, and leadership development, with a particular emphasis on empowering girls and women to achieve gender equity. Working closely with local communities, AIF partners with NGOs to develop and test innovative solutions and with governments to create and scale sustainable impact. Founded in 2001 at the initiative of President Bill Clinton following a suggestion from Prime Minister Vajpayee, AIF has impacted the lives of 2.5 million of India’s poor and aims to reach 5 million by 2018-19.  Learn more at www.AIF.org

About Being Human – The Salman Khan Foundation

Being Human – The Salman Khan Foundation is a registered charitable trust set up in 2007. It works in the areas of education and healthcare for the underprivileged. www.beinghumanonline.com