Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared open Sri Lanka’s first “National Centre for Children with Disabilities”

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared open Sri Lanka’s first “National Centre for Children with Disabilities”, which is named Ayati Centre.

The event was attended by Minister of Women & Child Affairs and Social Security Pavithra Wanniarachchi, former State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene, Vice Chancellor of University of Kelaniya Prof. D. M. Semasinghe, Dean of the university’s Medical Faculty Prof. Prasantha S. Wijesinghe and many other distinguished guests.

The Ayati Centre, located within the University premises in Ragama, was built at a cost of Rs 550 million. On-going operations will require extra funds for sustainability since services are to be provided free of charge. The Ayati Trust will continue to facilitate the raising of additional funds to ensure smooth operations.

Disability has been recognized as a national issue which needs the focus of everyone. According to available statistics, as many as one in five (20%) children could suffer from some form of disability, either mental or physical. If identified early, with continuous intervention, significant improvements can be achieved, enabling such children to achieve their fullest potential. This national need has resulted in the formation of a unique ‘Public-Private Partnership’ to provide a sustainable solution.

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kelaniya has provided the land and the clinical support, while Hemas Holdings and MAS Holdings, two leading conglomerates, spearheaded the setting up of the Ayati Centre, as key donors. The Sri Lanka Army has supported this initiative by providing their services free of charge to construct the Centre in a short span of 13 months. Rotary joined hands with the provision of audiology equipment and ‘Roshan Wijerama Family Foundation’ stepped in to support as a third key donor. The Ayati Centre will now be open to serve all Sri Lankans across the country and provide its services free of charge.

The Ayati Centre will have multi-disciplinary clinical operations throughout the week. The areas covered extend to all disabilities (physical &mental) with initial screening and interventions that will include Speech & Language Therapy, Audiology, Physiotherapy, Family Therapy, Occupational Therapy etc. The Centre, which will be developed to the standards of a “Centre of Excellence”, will consist of a state-of-the-art audiology unit, Sri Lanka’s first sensory room, a multi-disciplinary training centre, and research and development facilities, in addition to other clinical support services.

The clinics will be conducted by highly qualified professional experts attached to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kelaniya. Prior appointments are essential to ensure the delivery of standards that the Centre expects to offer. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 0115960050 between 9 am and 5pm on weekdays.

Derived from the word ‘hope’ in Sanskrit, the ‘Ayati’ project is a long-term, sustainable national initiative aimed at helping children with disabilities to reach their full potential. The ultimate objective is to create opportunities for them to be effectively integrated into society. The Ayati project hopes to improve the children’s quality of life and independence, enabling them live as full a life as possible. The Centre will actively engage in creating awareness of the national, social issue and try to pave ways to minimize the stigma.

The Ayati Centre is equipped to help the Sri Lankan community, and has opened its doors to the general public. The Centre will offer many required services that are not widely available within the country in relation to disabilities. With the success of this project, the Trust hopes to expand its’ reach across the country and help all those families and children that require these services but are unable to afford them.