Cycle journey around Sri Lanka to change lives of children with cerebral palsy
ECONOMYNEXT – Local and international riders will cycle 1,400 kilometres around Sri Lanka in April in an initiative branded ‘Around the Pearl’ to raise funds and give wheel chairs to thousands of children suffering from cerebral palsy (CP), organizers said.
There are an estimated 40,000 children around the country suffering from CP who have varying difficulties moving around founders of the initiative say.
Around the Pearl is conducted in collaboration with Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation (CPLF), a charity dedicated to making lives of children with CP better.
Cerebral palsy is believed to be caused by abnormal development or damage to the motor control centres of the brain, during, before or after birth due to infections or injuries. But the children can hear and understand, though their education suffers as they cannot go to school like other children.
Many such children are kept inside homes or locked in rooms by families who are lack funds to by a wheelchair or are not fully aware of the condition and what to do, founders of ‘Around the Pearl’ program say.
"I knew we had to bring the children out," Ajith Fernando, managing director of Capital Alliance, who cycles around the country with his friends as a hobby and was one of the founders of the ‘Around the Pearl’ program said.
"It was not just a wheelchair that we provide it is a window to the world."
Fernando said when the idea was first put to him, he immediately wanted to support it as his own child had the condition. She was just starting university this year.
Gopi Kitnasamy said his own child was suffered from CP and had a very high IQ but was not able to attend a normal school as the condition was more severe. He had set up a ‘dream centre’ especially for such children.
The 10-day cycle ride will kick-off on April 07, for the third successive year.
During the journey which will take the riders from Colombo to Galle, Negombo, Mirissa, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, Mannar and Chilaw, members of the public will be able join the cyclists and pledge donations by logging on to www.aroundthepearl.lk.
Among the sponsors and partners backing the initiative are, Australian Property Consultancy, Land Rover and Access Engineering, Linea Aqua Jetwing Hotels as Hotel Partner, Spinner and Event Production.
The fund raising initiative is now going beyond Sri Lanka’s shores with the involved of a charity in Melbourne.
Last year’s ride had raised funds for 1,500 wheel chairs.
Some of them will be given to children in various parts of the island as the riders go around the country.
"When you see the smile on the face of a child who gets a wheelchair you will not want to stop until all the children have a wheelchair," Kitnasamy says.