19th November 2022 at Science City Auditorium, Kolkata: WWAD (Walk With A Difference) is a social initiative by AIMS Media to discover the hidden talents of persons with disabilities in the fields of Clothing, Fashion, Art, Music, Dance and Sports through social events and exhibitions. Since 2010, AIMS Media has been building an inclusive and accessible society by imparting new-age skills, capacity building and vocational training to people with disabilities across India and overseas for their sustainable livelihoods and economic inclusion. After the first and second seasons in Delhi and Bangalore in 2015 and 2016 respectively, WWAD took place this year at Kolkata.
At the WWAD 2022 Audition that was held on 12th November at The Heritage School, twelve hundred contestants participated out of which thirty finalists were chosen by a panel of judges composed of renowned personalities from different walks of life. The selected finalists hailed from Assam, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, among other states.
At the Finale, the thirty talents have showcased their skills and confidence through fashion walks exhibiting their abilities beyond their disability. The finalists have walked for designers who have particularly kept adaptability and accessibility in mind while designing and stitching the clothes, right from replacing buttons with velcro for the benefit of individuals with fine motor issues and making reversible garments for visually impaired participants to using fabrics which cause no sensory issues for the finalists.
The Finale has been graced by eminent personalities, film makers, designers and artists who are impressed and inspired by their talent and style and wish to give them opportunities that would impact their lives positively. Singer India Ltd supported this evening by providing dresses and gifts to all the participants and also provide certificates, gifts to the designers who made all beautiful dresses for them. Apart from fashion, WWAD 2022 has also opened up avenues for PwDs in the area of sports by launching Football For All, an initiative of India Khelo Football in collaboration with AIMS Media. Football, as a sport, is an integral part of Bengali life and Football for All promotes this game in a disability friendly manner.
During the event, WWAD started important conversations on fashion vis-a-vis disability. In order to simplify and elucidate on the topic for all WWAD stakeholders and the society at large, the organizers have decided to publish a book on the topic. The cover of a book tentatively titled Fashion Disability Paradox has also been launched at the WWAD 2022 Finale, opening up discourse surrounding fashion and disability in an attempt to bridge the gap.
WWAD 2022 has also featured world class creative art performances by eminent musician Pt. Tanmay Bose and renowned dance choreographer Sangram Mukherjee. The mesmerizing performances have been successful in showcasing the multifaceted talents of the finalists. All thirty finalists have been awarded with cash 25000/ and corporate gifts. The finale has been witnessed by corporate CXOs, policy-makers, heads of institutions and bureaucrats who have appreciated and been involved in the upliftment of the community, giving rise to an inclusive and accessible society.
Through WWAD, people with disabilities get a chance to work in an attractive and glamorous industry like fashion. Previously, WWAD participants have walked for huge national and international brands. This year, too, the organizers are confident that the finalists will get a chance to shine bright in the inclusive fashion industry.
But the main attraction of the evening was the ramp walk performance. Kavita Bhist from Uttarakhand was awarded as the best performer of the show. Kavita survived the acid attack, she lost her eyesight. But Singer India Limited took her side and helped her to move forward. Kavita said that, Singer India helped her personally to take initiative to open her own sewing school, also she mentioned that she couldn’t participate in the WWAD if Singer India Ltd did not help
We have talked with Alpana Sarna the General Manager, HR,CSR Head of Singer India Ltd. She told us ,” Singer company will always support those who want to make a living out of the love of sewing. And always will be in forward to support platforms like WWAD, where underprivileged people can show their hidden talent”.