Published: 26th November 2017
These Chennai girls started a forum for disabled artists and kids to exhibit their art, called Kairassi
Kairassi, founded by three young women, started as a forum for disabled artists and has since extended to conducting art workshops for kids with disabilities
Most adults don't have the patience to watch children colouring. But these youngsters find a special kind of delight in it. Founders of a portal that organises art-meetups and a forum for children with disabilities, the trio is bringing a lot of cheer to children with conditions like Down Syndrome and mental retardation — by introducing to a world of shapes and colours.
Who are they? They are Indira Reddy, one of the founders of Kairassi, an NGO that works with intellectually challenged adults and children, and two volunteers. It was founded earlier this year by Indira and two of her friends — Kadambari Narendran and Divya Rao. The trio first launched it as an online portal for artists with disabilities to exhibit their work. Later, they moved a step ahead, conducting workshops for children with special needs.
“Kadambari and I are friends from school. Both of us aren’t artists ourselves, but we wanted to do something for a good cause. Kadambari knew Divya, who also studied in our school. She is an artist who also wanted to do something good,” says Indira. Three people with similar ideas and interests met and hence, Kairassi was born. “We work with different kinds of children. Some of them have mental retardation, some have Down Syndrome, and some have slow coordination,” explains Indira, as she shows us a few colouring sheets. The children of the Child Development Centre at Women’s Christian College, Chennai had coloured them as part of a competition. Apples, butterflies and caterpillars were coloured with so much perfection. Indira and her friends surely could take pride in that.
Terrific trio: Divya Rao, Kadambari Narendran and Indira Reddy, the founders of Kairassi
Their workshops usually consist of six sessions, where each session is an hour long. And what do they do during these sessions? “We talk to them about basic skills through art. The goals are to teach them about colours, how to hold a pencil, and colouring between the lines,” explains Indira, “There are no restrictions. They’re free. They should have fun too.” After all, isn’t art all about freedom of expression?
We talk about basic skills through art. The goals are to teach them about colours, how to hold a pencil, and colouring between the lines
Indira Reddy, co-founder, Kairassi
During the first couple of sessions, the trio gets to know the kids and provides them with one-on-one mentoring. “The first session is always the toughest. But then, practice keeps us moving forward. Once they’re comfortable with us, that is half the job done,” says Indira. Can we reiterate the fact that of the three co-founders, Divya is the only one who is an artist? But that hasn’t been a problem as the trio has always had a set of kind-hearted art enthusiasts helping them out at different events.
Now, let’s go back to where it all began — their online portal. The website displays paintings by three disabled artists. You can go online, choose a painting and buy it, just like any other website. “Word of mouth is definitely our first go-to medium. And it has worked well so far,” says Indira.
An hour went by. The smiles on the children’s faces were brighter than ever. Some of them proudly displayed their colouring sheets. They weren’t perfect. But then again, isn’t every work of art beautiful in its own way?