The New Year has brought in festivities and many smiling faces. January and February 2021 have rolled in and the key-note is, once more, 'Change’. Closely followed conventions like emails and What’s app are on the back seat and everything ‘Google' - Google docs, Google meet, etc - is the order of the day.
On 31st January 2021, Principal Fionika Sanghvi attended a virtual event hosted by the Asian Literacy Society – ‘Parwaaz’. Ms. Sanghvi, spoke as a panellist on ‘Inclusion, a myth or reality’. With long years of experience behind her, the Principal emphasized on the reality of inclusion. She felt that people who are associated with the differently abled, must create a platform for the world to know, to see, to recognize and to experience the abilities of the differently abled population. Casting a light on SPJ Sadhana’s endeavour, she drew attention to the annual exhibition which showcases the talents of the students and allows prospective employers to view the training. Commenting on the changed attitude of parents, she commended their strengths and positivity, their awareness of their rights and their eagerness to share their experiences with others. The parents no longer talk of guilt or shame but take pride in the achievements of the students. The parents, she feels are partners with the professionals and to make the life of the differently abled a celebration, advocacy is essential and sustainability a requisite necessity to be worked on. The Principal ended with the message that society in general must practice ‘UBUNTU’ and that ‘Acceptance’ and ‘Awareness’ define Ubuntu.
The staff and Google meet brought in a touch of the outdoors to the students, with a celebration for the Republic Day, Makar Sankranti and Valentine's Day.
Republic Day celebration was the validation of the Indian philosophy of life, with the students once again learning of the values of courage, truth and peace. The KAHOOT App was employed throughout the school for quizzes and games, and competitions were held in the style of ‘Kaun Banega Corepati’. The students of Wood Art & Handicraft (WAH) also participated in a small fashion show and in dances representing different states.
Makar Sankranti on 14th January 2021 brought in craft activities throughout school. Kites were decorated in many ways, from paper tearing and sticking to using ‘Zentangles’ to make one of a kind and beautiful specimens. Picture talks and stories made the day extremely interesting for our students while celebrating this uniquely Indian festival.
One month later, on 14th February, the students were busy enjoying Valentine's Day. This day has always been a day to understand the true meaning of love and our students have learnt to love and appreciate all the people who touch their lives. The students made wall hangings, cards and floral arrangements to express their affection to parents, teachers and friends.
The festivals also brought in a flurry of culinary adventures. The colours of the Indian flag were reflected in salads, sandwiches and what not. Til Laddos were hot favourite with most classes. The students of Grade IV have ‘most importantly’ learnt to follow a recipe from start to finish. Kudos little ones! The Hospitality and Catering Department have made forays of their own as well. Emphasis has been laid on the importance of food and personal hygiene and how to maintain both especially in these stressful times.
As students have very little of communication physically in society, the staff have been anxious to create an awareness of social norms. Students through regular academics and therapies are learning awareness of self and the requirement of boundaries in their lives. All the therapies besides specific intervention, aim at the holistic development of the student. In DMT (Dance & Movement Therapy) the students have worked in learning and embodying different qualities of movement and to internalize these to expand their repertoire. Movement helps students learn self-awareness through understanding how the body moves under certain stressors or feelings. They then learn self-regulation which gives them ownership over their own emotions and behaviours. The Department of Eclectic Therapy and the Mindfulness Meditation Department have concentrated on creating awareness through their respective therapies. Mindfulness creates awareness though the five senses and the natural progression is awareness of self on the physical, mental and emotional stratas. The Department of Eclectic Therapy operates mostly on one to one basis, where students learn their own boundaries and that of others and the subtle differences between personal proclivity and general disposition.
The Occupational Therapists have concentrated on changing an unnatural scenario with a gainful environment. Occupational Therapy needs physical contact to produce the best results. However, through sheer determination the therapists have achieved several breakthroughs. Through craft based activities therapists worked on scissor skills, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, midline crossing and tactile exploration. Basket weaving with paper plates and wool was a huge success specially with Grade II where attention span is limited. The Therapists also introduced mid-brain exercises and dealt with sensory issues, for example where cotton was viewed by the student as scary and pokey, by designing the activity in a way that drew attention away from touch and concentrated on getting the activity completed, the students have learnt to deal with the fear. The Otists also dealt with lack of sufficient pressure issues by using equipment available within the home to train the children. For example, puri dough was kneaded and puris rolled out to create sufficient pressure through the hands for an activity, where the student was using insufficient pressure.
The therapists also used simple visuals schedules for very small and non-verbal students such as marking the finished activities by removing the cards allotted to them. The Speech therapist had also designed simple signs to allow non-verbal and students who have misarticulation to participate in the morning prayers. Finally, the Yoga therapist achieved greater independence and responsibility for students by weaning them off parental assistance.
Sports have an important role in the growth of the students. However, with the homebound tenure of the past year, there has been a lack of physical movement through exercise, games and sport activities. Therefore, the management and the Sports department decided to introduce a physical fitness programme to the parents which will serve to maintain good health and fitness and agility as a routine. The Fit 5 programme has been designed by the Special Olympics and has been modified to suit the level of the students. The parents have given enthusiastic support to this innovation.