In an effort to provide an inclusive learning environment, the Cantonment Board and Aikya Centre for Children with Special Needs, joined hands to inaugurate Neyam, a centre for special children, on the premises of the Cantonment Board High School at St Thomas Mount on February 14.
According to Parvathy Vishwanath, founder of Aikya, Neyam will offer several programmes, including early intervention for children in the age group of 0-3 years, special education for children between three and 17 years and vocational training for young adults. Speech, occupational and sensory integration therapies for students, and counselling and training sessions for parents will be offered, she added.
At present, 15 students have enrolled through the on-going admission process. As part of the voluntary initiative, the Cantonment Board will provide school uniforms while Aikya will take the lead in educational assistance with the aid of experienced faculty.
“This is a more practical way of spreading the message of inclusion. We will encourage the students to play together and take part in school programmes. It will help in directly sensitising them to the needs of special children,” she said.
Speaking on the occasion, chief guest Kannagi Packianathan, IAS, Secretary, Welfare of Differently Abled Persons, urged the young audience of about 400 students of the Cantonment Board High School to make an effort to mingle with their special peers and help them get accustomed to the new environment.
G Vijaya Baskar, CEO, Cantonment Board, said, “As of now there are no such centres in the cantonment area, this is a major boost for special education.”
Speaking to Express, R Chandru, principal, Cantonment Board High School, highlighted that the school would take steps to encourage group activities and sensitise its teachers to the needs of the special children.
“If they are sensitised, they can create awareness among our students,” he added.
Beginning from March, the Neyam centre will offer vocational training such as making paper bags and moulding paper cups, to disabled young adults so as to boost employment opportunities for them.