Skill Development For Children with Special Needs, Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan Mumbai
Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan runs two special schools and a vocational training centre for children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. SBP began its activities in 1990 with the motto to make children with special needs independent through practical skill development.
A Beacon of Hope for Special Children
Children with IDD usually learn and progress more slowly than most other children. However, not all areas of development are equally affected. Although child faces physical and developmental challenges, they have distinct personality and distinct strengths. It can be tempting to focus upon the things a child can't do or isn't interested in, but this type of attention leads to a negative cycle in which both parents and the child become frustrated. A more positive approach for children with special needs is Responsive Teaching, where parents and caregivers respond to the areas of interest and strength that the child already exhibits, leading to positive emotions and growth on both sides.
Unable to understand how to cope with a special child, often, parents do not want to spend much on their education or even allow their children to face society alone. These children remain completely dependent on their guardians for care and support.
SBP focusses on responsive teaching and follows need-based curriculum. All the special children are not taught the same thing. The needs of every person with IDD are different, individualized educational program is prepared for every child after making assessment of what she/he knows, taking into consideration his/her needs and her/his abilities.
On admission, all children undergo a formal and informal assessment to understand their strengths and weaknesses. After 3 months, children are assessed based on what is planned for them. Further, they are assessed and evaluated intermittently. Based on the assessment, each child is provided with a need-based schedule, focusing on their strengths and skills. Every skill taught is followed-up because children may tend to forget the skills taught. The best part is that each student gets one-on-one training. The curriculum includes decision making, money managing, behavior and skill development. If a particular child’s parents have their own shop etc., the child is taught skills specific to that so the child can help the parents independently.
The premises where the school and vocational training is imparted are owned by SBP. Currently SBP operates the following centres:
Disha Special School, Belapur , CBD, Navi Mumbai Started in 1990. This unit caters to the students in the age group of 5 to 18 and has current strength of 81 children. The students are divided in to eight different levels. CBD has a staff strength of 23 members including special educators, helpers, drivers
Falguni Vocational Centre, Belapur , CBD, Navi Mumbai started in 1997 with current strength of 45 youths (age 18 and above) supported by 10 vocational teachers
Sea Bird Special School, Uran, started in 1997 with current strength of 40 children (age group of 5 to 18) and 10 staff members. This unit was formed in Uran of Raigad District, Maharashtra, with an objective to educate children with IDD from the rural areas
One of the key highlights of SBP is encouraging students to participate in sports and cultural activities. SBP conducts weekly sports training to select students. SBP students regularly participate in variety of sports competition.
Children from SBP have participated in the Special Olympics, one of the students has also won Gold medal at Special Olympics event and International Conference in Barcelona where children from SBP also performed dance on skates. Some of the accomplishments last year include the following:
5 Students participated in the Basketball State Games, in Pune
23 students participated in the Thane District Sports meet organized by the Social Welfare Department, Thane Jilla at DadojiKondev stadium, winning 11 medals in all
17 students participated in the sports competition organized by Samannayand won 15 medals
4 Students also participated in the Roller Skating and Table Tennis State Games held by SOB in Pune
SBP organizes several cultural programs including a grand Annual day wherein each of the students participates. This helps develop the children’s confidence and creates independence for them. SBP hosts several events and ensures that children participate and perform whenever they receive the opportunity. Some of the interesting programs which SBP organizes during the course of the year include:
Grand parents’ day
World disability day
We visited the Belapur and Uran Centres separately. Both the schools operate bus for pick up/dropping the children.The premises are built with adequate facilities and they were maintained with high standard of cleanliness. We realized that along with special education other support services provided at this unit are:
Counseling and Guidance
Art & Craft
Various other Recreational activities for students, staff and parents
The classrooms at both the centers were bright and cheerful with colorful tables and chairs for the children. The children greeted us with respect.
Before beginning the day, the children undergo a set of exercises to feel ready to concentrate on the day’s work. Following this, the children began their studies and other activities.
As we walked through the class, we saw each black board had every student’s photo, name and contact information. Apart from this, timetables were made based on the students name instead of the subjects, such that each student’s strength was highlighted and developed.
Children were also taught to grow plants in bottles and make envelopes. They were also taught practical life skills such as money management and transaction, identifying objects in a shop, how to cross a road, etc. that can help them fend for themselves.
Older students were receiving vocational training at the vocation centre. They were being taught arts and crafts including stitching, painting, candle making, peeling of vegetables etc.
The day we visited, the children were preparing for their annual day, rehearsing and performing their music and dance acts perfectly well. Watching these children in action made us feel that they are truly special.
SBP has seen a shift in behavior as parents see their child contributing to the family and doing things independently. They have now formed a self-help group to have activities such as making and packing spices with the help of an adult with IDD.
SBP is planning to expand and create a residential vocation centre in Kharghar to develop vocational skills with training programs and to encourage a paid employment of the children.
Financially, SBP receives government grants, fees and individual donations; however, they want to achieve financial independence by forming a Corpus, they constantly need support from donors to augment their facilities. SBP has now completed 28 years, the smiles on the face of children speaks volume of love and care they receive at SBP. The founder, promoting trustees, principal and staff members treat them like their own. Each child coming from their parents’ home walks in to the home of love, patience, trust and hope.
We all need to strengthen the resolve of the entire team by standing with them firmly in supporting the cause they are serving.