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Mission Special Hangout: Empowering Neurodivergent Lives

Special Hangout is a powerful force, revolutionizing the lives of neurodivergent individuals by forging a robust, supportive community within society

Ritu Vig, a fervent advocate for neurodivergent individuals, co-founded Special Hangout. Inspired by her elder son Kritin’s intellectual disability, she established this community to provide unwavering support to children like him. Joined by her younger son, Pranit, they passionately drive the organization’s mission forward.

Fuelled by her love for literature and exploration, Ritu’s unwavering dedication aims to empower every child. Her impactful efforts at Special Hangout have also profoundly transformed families, fostering unparalleled inclusion and empowerment.

In an exclusive exchange with The Interview World, Ritu Vig delves into the world of Special Hangout. Furthermore, she underscores its pivotal role in integrating neurodivergent individuals and outlines her bold vision for the future. Here are the pivotal takeaways from our compelling discussion.

Q: Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind founding Special Hangout and how it all began?

A: Special Hangout was born from Kritin, my 22-year-old son with an intellectual disability. His yearning for social outings akin to his younger brother’s spurred me to launch after-school meet-ups. These events also aim to forge a vibrant community for children like Kritin and offer invaluable support to their parents.

Q: How do you collaborate with professionals and parents to design and implement workshops that cater to the needs of neurodivergent individuals?

A: In the beginning, I took charge of curating and orchestrating all activities single-handedly. But as our outreach grew, parents eagerly stepped up, leading workshops in their specialized fields. For example, one parent now leads weekly yoga classes, and another introduced us to a music therapist who generously offers free sessions. Furthermore, parents volunteer their time to assist in organizing our workshops and events, cultivating a deeply collaborative atmosphere.

A Special Workshop Conducted at the Special Hangout
A Special Workshop Conducted at the Special Hangout

Q: Your upcoming art exhibition sounds inspiring. Could you elaborate on how such events contribute to raising awareness about disabilities and supporting talented neurodivergent individuals?

A: The art exhibition has triumphed magnificently. Visitors are consistently awestruck by the exquisite art crafted by neurodivergent artists, catalyzing a profound shift in perceptions and affirming their pivotal role as contributors to society. This showcase serves as a powerful platform, spotlighting diverse disabilities and magnetizing youth eager to collaborate through engaging workshops with our collective.

Q; In what ways does Special Hangout ensure that neurodivergent individuals are integrated into the broader community beyond your organization?

A: We drive awareness through a myriad of impactful events including art exhibitions, talent showcases, product displays, and seminars focused on autism. These initiatives have significantly heightened public consciousness and engagement, resulting in a surge of support offers. Furthermore, we forge partnerships with agencies to deliver training, employment opportunities, and internships for our stakeholders, thereby advancing extensive community integration efforts.

Q: What impact have you seen on the individuals and families who participate in your programs? Are there any particular success stories that stand out to you?

A: Beginning with a mere 15 families, our community has blossomed to embrace approximately 275 members. Parents revel in a nurturing environment, finding solace in our gatherings where understanding and acceptance prevail. Remarkable tales abound: a marginalized youth, once a dropout amidst the COVID chaos, rediscovered purpose alongside his mother through Special Hangout activities. Equally inspiring is the story of a young artist whose passion for painting has transformed into entrepreneurial zeal, now selling framed artworks and painted trays.

Q: How do you measure the effectiveness of your programs in achieving your mission of promoting personal growth and empowerment among neurodivergent individuals?

A: Our no-cost programs are designed to unlock the full potential of every child. Moreover, we firmly believe in the unique contributions of each individual and passionately cultivate their distinctive strengths through creative means. Embracing diversity in background and abilities, we also extend our impact from Mumbai to broader horizons. Our unwavering dedication to inclusion and profound respect for individual strengths are fundamental to our remarkable achievements.

Q: What are your future goals and aspirations for Special Hangout? Are there any new initiatives or projects on the horizon?

A: Our ultimate aim is absolute inclusion for every person, guaranteeing a life of dignity. We are committed to demonstrating that diversity is not just essential but exquisite across all facets of life. Through spotlighting the talents of neurodivergent individuals in areas such as art, music, drama, coding, and beyond, our mission is to open pathways to employment and foster genuine admiration. Our unwavering dedication lies in raising awareness and fostering greater acceptance of the disabled community, thereby catalyzing a society that is not only inclusive but also deeply supportive.

A Neurodivergent Kid Posing for His Creative Art at the Special Hangout
A Neurodivergent Kid Posing for His Creative Art at the Special Hangout
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