The popular tale goes that a jolly man traverses the globe in a single night each Christmas, leaving wonderful gifts in every home. The fact is, there are Santas everywhere, in each and every one of us. This season, let’s celebrate the Santas in our lives and uplift the people around us with gifts of love, hope, and compassion.
“The first time I picked him up, I lit up like a Christmas tree, the way a new parent feels when holding their firstborn!” -Aditya Tiwari
The Gift of a new life – When Aditya Tiwari first laid eyes on 5-month-old Avnish at the orphanage where he volunteered, it was love at first sight. Baby Avnish, who has Down Syndrome, was left in a corner, completely ignored. “I asked the warden what was going to happen to the kids at the orphanage, he said that all but Avnish would get adopted because Avnish was ‘Paagal’ (Demented in Hindi), and was going to die in a few years anyway,” he says. Aditya asked if the orphanage would let him adopt Avnish but they laughed and told him a bachelor below 30 had no right to adopt. Despite the odds, he refused to give up. Today, Avnish is 7, a happy and healthy child. Like any other parent, Aditya wants his son to dream bigger and brighter.
Read his full story HERE
“Volunteering isn’t about ‘us’ helping or teaching ‘them’. It’s about mutual learning, respect, and making friends. “ – Kevan Lee
The Gift of compassion – Meet Kevan Lee, a mentor, a volunteer, a teacher. He volunteers with both the badminton outreach program for athletes with intellectual disabilities as well as the Young Athletes program for younger children with and without ID at Special Olympics Singapore. As a teacher at Saint Anthony’s Canossian Secondary School, he has also inspired dozens of his students to become volunteers. They have learned important life lessons through volunteering, including values of empathy, compassion, humility, and resilience. Kevan’s greatest wish is to influence generations of young people to give, creating a truly inclusive society with equal opportunities for all.
Read his full story HERE
“The responsibility to help all children, no matter what they’re born with, to have an equal opportunity in life, lies on all of our shoulders.” – Rekha Kashyap and Navjot Saroop
The Gift of Hope – Rekha Kashyap and Navjot Saroop are special educators who have been traveling across the state of Punjab, India, reaching out to families in the rural villages to help parents understand the importance of sport and play for children with intellectual disabilities. Their message is clear – Do not hide your special children. Be proud of them, not ashamed. Their tireless efforts have brought hope, joy, and pride to hundreds of families. When asked why they do what they do, their answer is simple: every child deserves a chance and head start in life, no matter their ability.
Read their full story HERE
No matter how small the gesture, a simple act of taking the time to do something for someone transcends all boundaries. It’s what defines our humanity: knowing that each and every one of us has the power to make a difference.
Put on your Santa hats this Christmas and make a difference with a #GiftOfInclusion
Step into our Christmas wonderland and help our elf collect gifts while dodging cheeky snowmen and reindeer. The more #GiftsOfInclusion you collect, the closer we will be to building an inclusive society for children with intellectual disabilities across the Asia Pacific.