Caring for the handicapped

Caring for the handicapped The VERY Special Arts (VSA) programme uses art to help children with various disabilities, especially those who are mentally handicapped. Art is used for education, emotional, social and economic rehabilitation and as a vocation. Says VSA's Moyna Singh, "The idea is to use art as a tool of rehabilitation." Hypersensitive children, for instance, learn to control their emotions through music.

In August, VSA collaborated with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to organise an integrated art exhibition for handicapped children. Apart from conducting workshops, VSA has also brought out a comprehensive directory of schools and other support services for Delhi and Kerala.

Samadhan, a voluntary organisation, caters to the special needs of mentally handicapped children and their families, helping them to rehabilitate and integrate themselves into the societal mainstream. It focusses mainly on low-income resettlement colonies. The underlying philosophy at Samadhan is that persons with a mental handicap, however severe, can be assisted with adequate and timely intervention.

While Samadhan's policy stresses primarily on services to the mentally handicapped, children with other disabilities are also being gradually included in its programmes. There are a total of eight programmes, including day-care centres, vocational training units and parent counselling. Samadhan also provides reference services and publishes Samadhan News, a quarterly newsletter on the mentally handicapped.

Towards self-reliance
The Balar Kalvi Nilayam in Madras is one of the leading schools in Tamil Nadu for handicapped children. The children stay here till their late teens, learning skills that will help them later in life. One of the objectives of the Nilayam is to make the children more independent and capable of handling their daily routine so that they are less of a burden to their family.

The National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped runs a school for such children, makes educational aids available to them and undertakes various projects. It also has R&D facilities for the mentally handicapped.

The Spastics Society of Northern India helps children with multiple handicaps. They focus mainly on children with neurological disorders, particularly cerebral palsy. Services are provided through three projects: the vocational training centre, the centre for special education and the home management programme.

The vocational training programme imparts skills to children so that they can enter a profession and not be completely dependent on their families. The centre for special education provides physical, speech and occupational therapies. The home management programme provides counselling to parents so that they can help train their children. There is also a programme to provide proper medical care to the children. Every three months, a special programme is held for children from other cities. The society also runs a similar project in Dayalpur village in Haryana.

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