Pure Knowledge- Gained and Restored.
Center for Social Action(NGO), part of Christ University, organized a visit to WARDS (Welfare Association for Rehabilitation of Disabled and Society) on 13th November, 2016, to increase awareness about mentally challenged children and learning disabilities. Welfare Association for Rehabilitation of Disabled and Society is like no other school because it admits and teaches specially challenged children, enabling them to rehabilitate themselves in the society. As we were greeted with excitement and wide smiles, we knew that our visit to WARDS was going to be a unique experience. The kids displayed immense talent as they began their show with an invocation song, followed by dance performances. The teachers’ involvement and interest in the children’s activities was surreal. They laughed and cheered them on as they conducted their performances with great enthusiasm. It was evident that the children bonded well with the teachers as they laughed and participated with them wholeheartedly.
We also played a game of ‘passing the parcel’ which they thoroughly enjoyed. Each one of them displayed a unique talent every time they were caught with the ‘parcel’. It was fascinating to watch them sing and do the Surya Namaskar confidently before a group of visitors. They mingled well with us and pretty soon became friends too. They made us feel extremely comfortable and embraced among them.
After a quick photo session with the kids, we finally bid them goodbye. Then we were taken on a visit inside the school to provide us an insight into their daily routine and activities. We were taken aback by the beautiful products which the children had made. Beautiful earrings, bangles, colorfully painted diyas, candles of different shapes and sizes, as well as pretty trays; they were all extremely beautiful. They also had chalk moulds, with the help of which they made chalks all by themselves. Then we were taken into another room which had large piles of newspapers and machinery which was used for making paper plates. A helper demonstrated how the machine works and it was truly amazing to know that the children channelled their energy into such productive ways that enabled them to learn more and thus adjust to their environment.
Their teacher explained to us, “It is important for the kids to learn various other activities to exercise their creative skills. Academic knowledge is essential, but in today’s world, purely rote learning will not help them survive. Therefore, sports, performing arts and creative learning, among other things are induced in their curriculum to enable them to have an all-rounded personality.” It is indeed an excellent step to help the children grow independent and live on their own, notwithstanding their disabilities. Thus, the teachers’ role in each of their lives is truly commendable and strong as they help the children cope with the disabilities and teach them basic everyday things as well.
To conclude, it was a completely different experience altogether. Punitha Reddy of Christ University stated, “I was taken aback when we were told that we would be visiting WARDS because it is like no other place. Every word you say should be consciously thought upon since it can affect the children in unimaginable ways. We were required to be extra sensitive towards them and a certain amount of mental preparation is required before such visits. Overall, it was an eye-opening and beautiful experience.” Watching them being so jovial and enthusiastic definitely taught us to live life to the fullest and stop worrying about our problems once in a while. In today’s world, with increasing awareness to mental health issues, we need to sensitize others as well and erase any stigma against the mentally challenged. Therefore, as responsible humans, it is our duty to “Ask, Understand, Tell a Friend, Include, Show Your Support and Make a Difference.” Centre for Social Action gave us an opportunity to make and be that difference in the society.