Inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in livelihood schemes has always been a challenge. Their participation in MGNREGA or SRLM remains negligible, if not zero. Centered around this thought a joint action plan between CBM, Bhartiya Viklang Jan Forum (BVJF) and Parivaar – NCPO (National Confederation of Parents Organizations) was created which focused on training BVJF staff to become “Mentors” and support in mainstreaming people with intellectual disabilities through skill development, in rural areas. These mentors, provide ,people with intellectual disabilities, “Self Advocacy Training” and those who undergo this training are graduated as “Self advocates”.

As part of this convergence initiative CBM sponsored a series of 3 workshops for BVJF staff for the coaching of mentors. These mentors who in future would help in empowering people with intellectual disabilities in various communities. A total of three workshops for Mentors were held at TLM Kothara, PGSS Gorakhpur and Sanjivani Jan Vikas evam Kalyan Samiti, Ranikhet. The participants were from 7 states namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra.
76 BVJF members and partner staff attended the Mentor training along with 21 other professionals. 24 people with intellectual disability were also among the participants. The training was conducted by 8 master trainers deputed by Parivaar-NCPO.
The class room curriculum introduced participants (future mentors) to the manifestations of intellectual disability in daily life. These included lower level of cognitive ability, issues of sensory integration, impediments in learning processes and over protection or prolonged discrimination resulting in behavioral complications. The part with life skills focused on enhancing self awareness that is awareness about rights and responsibilities, listening skills, managing feelings, self-protection, solving small problems, interpersonal relationship, effective communication and decision making.
The workshop elicited good response and enthusiasm among the participants who graduated as Mentors. Each Mentor was given a Mentor Training Handbook on the last day of the workshop .