THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Athul is very communicative for a child with special needs, just that he keeps repeating his sentences. When he sings, the whole class goes silent and children listen in awe. The nine-year-old was the cynosure of all eyes at the innovative camp ‘valkannadi’ held at the North Urban Resource Centre compound at Pettah.
As many as 40 differently-abled students belonging to various schools under the North URC of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) bid adieu to their worries for two whole days at the camp. They danced, played, did drama and had fun at ‘jump and play’ - an inflated balloon in the shape of a small castle. Among them were visually-challenged, hearing-impaired, differently-abled and physically-disabled. But at the camp, there were no differences, but only the warmth of togetherness.
‘’In the class, teaching them to count or making them listen to a poem would be very difficult. But here, through games, we make them count, listen to stories, wear masks and act and shed their little inhibitions,’’ says Valsala, Resource Person at the North URC.
The children were asked to try and act out a small drama which they did with much enthusiasm. Do not mind the lack of coordination or the perfection, but the children did try. They were motivated to engage in a treasure hunt, with the resource persons keeping folded instructions at many secret places which the children had to find out. As per the directions in the folded papers, they finally had to give individual performances, songs, dance or anything that came to their mind.
A large version of a ‘snake and ladder’ game was spread on the floor and the children prompted to play. Which gave them a chance to love Maths, the teachers say. The URC officials not just documented every game and all the special moments, but captured them in still shots too.
‘’The main intention was to let the parents also take a break. Many mothers are really anxious to leave their children under the care of anybody else. Here, we prompted them to go back, though some of them are adamantly staying back, and return at the end of the camp. Only like this, can we make the children do little things. Some of the children are totally non-communicative, they were sent home in the evening, but others stayed,’’ says Anita, Resource Person.
The officials said that once every year they plan such camps for IED (Special education/integrated for the disabled) students, which helps bring out the many hidden talents in the children.