SBI Foundation’s Centre of Excellence for PwDs participated in the Purple Fest organised at Panjim-Goa, by the Directorate of Social Welfare, Office of the State Commissioner for PwDs (Goa), Goa Tourism Development Corporation, Information & Publicity Department (Goa) and Entertainment Society of Goa, from 6th to 8th January 2023. This first of its kind festival celebrated the lives and achievements of PwDs and served as a platform to increase awareness towards inclusion of PwDs in the society. SBI Foundation’s Centre of Excellence for PwDs (CoE for PwDs) strives towards creating a more inclusive India by bridging distances & differences and removing barriers to employment and employability for PwDs.At the festival, our CoE for PwDs team was engaged in a two-day workshop, which was organised by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment-Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), in association with the Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD). The workshop witnessed the participation of representatives from various State governments and NGOs. It focused on improving accessibility, implementation-related issues of various schemes and programmes for PwDs, innovations and action plans in the field of accessibility, and more. Mr. Shashi Bhushan, VP & Program Head, CoE for PwDs-SBI Foundation, shared, “Participating in this workshop has been a great learning experience. Many issues and possible solutions relating to the empowerment of PwDs were discussed by the panelists, like focusing on qualitative vs quantitative outcomes when dealing with assistive tech, issuance & importance of UDIDs, making infrastructure more accessible, etc. These learnings will be helpful in our programs to fastrack creation of a more inclusive India.” An exhibition was also organised at the Purple Fest to showcase some of the latest aids, appliances, and assistive technology devices developed by and for persons with disabilities. Some of our partner NGOs and associates participated in this exhibition.The XRCVC team presenting some of the assistive tech devices and inclusive education material under our project Inclusion and Access The 360-degree approachFor instance, the team from Xavier’s Resource Centre for Visually Challenged (XRCVC) presented some of the assistive tech devices and inclusive education material under our project titled ‘Inclusion and Access: The 360-degree approach’. Our partner SAKSHAM, showcased some of their initiatives like production of braille books and audio book readers. Our project with SAKSHAM focuses on creating and fostering an entrepreneurial environment for 500 PwDs across 6 States in India. Union Bank of India, one of our partner banks under our empowerment of employees with disabilities project, showcased their accessible debit cards. SBI Youth for India alumnus-Siddarth Daga, showcased products developed under his brand-NeoMotion, an IIT Madras-incubated start-up, that manufactures personalised motorised wheelchairs. He also pitched a livelihood project for PwDs, where this device can be used for delivery runner services. Our project ‘Gift Hope, Gift Life’, in partnership with MOHAN Foundation, facilitated awareness and sensitisation conversations on organ donation.Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment – Dr. Virendra Kumar, and Goa CM Dr. Pramod Sawant being briefed about our organ donation project Gift Hope, Gift LifeThe festival also included other activities like live performances by artists with disabilities, blind cricket & para-TT championships, and accessible tourism activities like beach visits, cruise rides and more. “Purple fest gave an opportunity for all to understand the capabilities of PwDs. It creates various platforms to understand a variety of ways of including us in society in a dignified way through various tracks. It was a gratifying experience, involving myself in various activities ranging from advocacy led think tank workshops, to accessible tourism activities like bird watching and car rallies. I hope such initiatives are taken up by the other State governments as well, in the future,” shared Mr. Khandu Bhandare, Asst. Manager & Trainer, CoE for PwDs-SBI Foundation. About SBI Foundation SBI Foundation is the CSR arm of the State Bank Group. True to its tradition of “Service Beyond Banking,” the Foundation recognises the importance of engaging with communities across key focus areas such as empowerment of PwDs, rural development, healthcare, education, sustainability & environment, livelihood & skill development, youth empowerment, promotion of sports, and more. In this pursuit, SBI Foundation works across 28 States and Union Territories of India, undertaking several initiatives to make resources available to the most vulnerable sections of the society, directly and through strategic partnerships with impact-making entities in the social sector in the most transparent way to create inclusive, sustainable development. SBI Foundation believes in reflecting the ethos of the State Bank Group in running interventions that are ethical, promote growth and equality, and create a positive impact on society. www.sbifoundation.in.For more information, reach out to Reshwin Washington (email@example.com +91 72597 35717), Marketing & Communications-SBI Foundation.