A cultural fest for special children: A truly special show

TNIE lensman A Sanesh presents a kaleidoscope of scenes from the Kerala State Special Schools Kalolsavam 
Students of School for the Blind, Aluva, celebrate their win in the band music category
Students of School for the Blind, Aluva, celebrate their win in the band music category

KOCHI: What unfurled at the Government Higher Secondary School at Kalamassery was a cultural festival like any other. Save for the posters that adorned the nine venues, which screamed ‘a cultural fest for special children’, there was nothing here that made the stellar performances on display any less exciting. In fact, the competitions were fiercely contested by children, who had descended in large numbers from schools across the state.

Even parents and teachers went about their business as usual, not stopping every other minute to address their wards’ easily evident handicaps. This way, they did not reduce them to the ‘other’, as society often does. From our vantage point on the balcony, we saw students chit-chat and pass on instructions through sign language. In another instance, we saw a blind student swag through the corridor, masterfully evading many obstructions. All these were commonplace, not an anomaly.

What was also evident at the festival was the almost-quiet acceptance that music and arts are as important as maths and science. “It is medicine for these students,” says Michael C J, the dance teacher of Fr Agostino Vicini’s Special School in Mundamveli, Kochi.

Unlike other competing schools, his students did not employ the sound of claps in the recorded song for the oppana dance. “It was a conscious decision. We need these students to clap their hands for the song’s duration. This way, they feel the dance and the rhythm and do not just imitate a few steps,” says Michael aka Johnson master, who has been training students with disabilities for 27 years. 

“I’m not after prizes. I want these youngsters to be successful,” he adds. The cultural fest, which is in its 24th year, is instrumental in ensuring that these children are not robbed of their opportunities. The government must now look to provide a platform for these students outside the school. After day 2, Thrissur district was on top of the table with 301 points, and Thiruvananthapuram a distant second with 244 points and Malappuram  third with 234 points.

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