Muskaan Garg is a shining example of what a child can do if given proper training and support. And her mother Neena an example worth emulating. If it was not for her grit and determination to give a good life to her daughter, Muskaan would still be slogging in a normal school, and perhaps become a ‘failure’.
In a society wherein very many rich parents hide the disabilities of their kids, don’t accept their ‘special’ status and to not let anyone else know what’s wrong with their child keep sending him/her to normal schools, Neena, not only accepted her daughter whole-heartedly but also worked on her special abilities ‘so that after me she can take care of herself’.
The results are astounding. Muskaan won Gold medal in deadlift, a silver each in squat and bench press and a bronze medal in a combo of three at the recently held Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Special Olympics are aimed at eliminating notions that intellectually-disabled children should be walled in because of social barriers.
Muskaan has been wining medals in Special Olympics for three years in row now, in different events, including unified soccer ball and ice skating.
The journey has not been easy, says Neena. “I initially put her in a normal school as I didn’t know that she was a special child (at 17 years of age today, Muskaan has the mental age of a 10-year-old, and though she is self-dependent she is hearing and speech-impaired child). She did well initially but then started lagging behind in studies. That was when I realized there is some problem with her,” she says. The problem was confirmed after a few visits to the hospital. Neena realized she had to do something for her daughter. But there was no family support. In fact, not just relatives, even her husband cautioned against spending on her. Undeterred, Neena looked for a school, found one in Sonipat that was suitable, and moved bag and baggage. “My husband was very unhappy. He told me I am wasting money on her but I had made up my mind,” she says.
“I am so thankful to the Little Angel Inclusive School due to which my daughter became self-dependent. She stayed there for four years. Last year I had to pull her out of school due to financial crunch,” says Neena. “All those who dissuaded me from doing things for my daughter are now all praise for me” she remarks.
Neena takes care of each small detail of her daughter’s life, be it her exercise regimen or her diet. Muskaan practices for four hours daily, besides playing badminton with her mother to keep fit. “Her coach Dinesh Aswal, who himself is a Commonwealth Gold medalist, supports Muskaan a lot. More than family its people like him who stood by me and my daughter,” says Neena.
She has a few words of advice for other parents. “Understand your child. There is no problem if the child is special, problem arises when you don’t accept it. Accept your child, find out his/her strengths and work on that,” she says.