Daily Archives: December 3, 2019

#ThisAbilityMatters – Their Disability? Or Mine?

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

The first day I walked into Save The Children India in BKC, Mumbai, I wondered what it would be like to be on the same campus as a school for children with disability. I’d never worked with people with disabilities before, and I had a few kindly thoughts in my head regarding the special school; thoughts that over the past four months have rearranged themselves to form a much more realistic narrative about a childhood in which disability plays a role.

  • Children with hearing impairments will be quiet, I thought.

But they’re not! They use sounds – laughter, annoyance, sorrow – and signs. So the school is full of a different kind of sound. They stand around in the corridors during recess pulling each other’s legs, gossiping about each other or their teachers, playing games. Before school they play, organize small games for the younger children and sometimes slump down half asleep – clearly the day is going to be spent drowsing in class for some! Let’s be honest we’ve all had those days and some of us still do!

  • Children with disability are kind to each other.

Hah! They’re children! Sometimes they’re kind to each other. Sometimes they shove each other. Sometimes there’s bullying.

One time, a child who also has an intellectual disability simply stopped on the stairs while going up to class after assembly. The children behind him waited. And waited. Chatted with each other. Then the child just behind him gave him a shove – go on! This child simply became even more still on the stairs. Refusing to move. There was a commotion further down the line with shoving and pushing and somewhat rude comments.

In a minute another child from the back of the line came forward and just moved the line around the child who was still on the stairs.

The teacher soon arrived and allowed the child time to decide what he wanted to do.

Another time I found two adolescent girls in a vehement discussion – clearly annoyed with each other. There was some shoving involved. Other children stepped in and broke it up.

Moral of the story – as with all groups of children, here too there’s all kinds of childhood behaviours. To expect otherwise is to reduce these children to their disability and deny them their right to being children.

  • Parents of children with disability struggle to cope with them.

Yes, they do. But again that’s only one part of the narrative. Parents invest in small and beautiful ways in their children – spending a whole school day with the younger ones for instance, learning how to enable them to participate in a world of speech and language through an Aural Oral Communication Programme. Or taking the older ones to the local hairdresser to have their hair streaked. Or braiding their daughter’s hair carefully and elaborately on a special occasion. And yes, they often comment on the challenge they face especially to have their child socialize in family and neighbourhood gatherings. But more than that, they enjoy their children; play with them; scold them; cuddle them. Why on earth would I expect it to be any different!

  • Children with disability are natural artists.

You know what – many of them are as much artists as I am. And that’s not saying much at all! No. Those with disabilities are not ‘naturally’ given to ‘alternative occupations’. Many of them are very interested in Maths, in languages or science. Many have academic aspirations.  Some are really good at drawing. Others are simply trying to find their interest and talent the same as I was, at that age.

  • Children with disability need kindness.

Yes. They do. As do all children. But they also need stimulation – games, music, competition, science exhibitions, maths kits….the same kind of holistic focus that we’re arguing is necessary in mainstream schooling. Part of our challenge is that we’re simply not investing enough in their intellectual growth – they’re curious and wanting to learn more. We need to step up.

My main takeaway from my own experience and observation is this – that even the most well-meaning among us tends to be reductive about children who have disability. The child becomes the ‘deaf child’, the ‘slow child’, and sometimes even the ‘thick child’. There is fear in engaging with them as they approach puberty and develop sexual preferences – as though it is distasteful for them to have sexual urges or fantasies as they grow through adolescence.  And there is a reluctance to scold, and a cringing when we see someone else scold, a child with disability.

Why?

I’m teaching myself to see beyond the hearing impairment and the intellectual disability. To respect each child’s individuality. To engage in conversation. To ask questions. To join them in play sessions. And to confess that I can’t draw to save my life and watch them confess as well, before we turn to admire the work of their drawing teacher.

#ThisAbilityMatters – Experts Speak On Building An Inclusive World For India’s Children

Children with disabilities are missing from mainstream discussions on education and employment, climate change and conflict, elections and evolving technology, sexual rights and sustainable development goals. How then do we expect Inclusive India to become a reality?

Working with children with disabilities, leaders of reputed organizations, take a deeper look at how we can address the gaps and make India truly inclusive for it’s children.

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

JAIVAKEEL FOUNDATION

We need to build a world where children are defined by their abilities and not their disabilities.”- Archana Chandra, CEO, Jaivakeel Foundation

UMMEED CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER

“A child is much more than his/her disability” – Shamin Mehrotra, Director – School Outreach Services & Mental Health Therapist, Ummeed Child Development Center

SAVE THE CHILDREN INDIA

“We need to remove all the barriers that are limiting equitable participation of children with disabilities.” –  Farida Bagasrawala, Director, Special Care Centre, Save The Children India.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “One Day, I Will Become A Big Guy,” Proclaims Amir.

Q. What is your name, age, where do you live?

A. I am Amir, a 17-year-old studying in class 10. I live in Santacruz.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. I live with my four brothers and one sister and my mother and father. I am the youngest of all and the most loved. My best friend is Azam because we both study and draw together.

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. I love playing cricket, being with my friends and roaming around with them especially in Andheri and Bandra.

Q. What are your hobbies?

A. I love playing cricket, being with my friends and roaming around especially in Andheri and Bandra.

Q. How do you come to school? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most?

A.I stay in Santacruz so I first take the train till Bandra, get off the train and take a bus to reach Bandra Kurla Complex. I like coming to school because I get to play carom and cricket at school.

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/least favourite subject?

A. We first have the prayer in school, then we are served breakfast after which we study and play. Any sports activity is my most favourite thing to do. I love playing carom and cricket in school as it is my favourite thing.

Q. Tell us your favourite subject.

A. Math and History are two of my favourite subjects.

I will go to college, learn English and one day, I will become a big guy. I shall work in a mall and I also plan to go outside of India. I will go to Saudi Arabia.

Q. When do you feel Happy? Sad? Scared? Angry?

A. I feel sad when girls do not talk to me! From all the girlfriends that I have, Muskan is my favourite friend. She is beautiful and so good at drawing!

Q. India is an independent country. Did you know that? What does that mean?

A. Yes! That means that no one is ruling us and that we are all free now.

Q. What does freedom mean to you?

A. I feel free when I am on my own and when I am with my friends as there are no restrictions.

Q. Tell us what you love, what inspires you? Or Who inspires you? Why?

A. I love Virat Kholi because he is the best! I did not feel sad when India lost the World Cup, because it is a game.

Q. If you had given a superpower, what would you like to do/change about your life?

A. I would become Shah Rukh Khan for a day.

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “I Want To Become A Doctor When I Grow Up,” Asserts Humza.

Q. What is your name, age? Where do you live?

A.  I am Hamza, I am 11 years old and live in Dharavi.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. I have two sisters and my parents in my house. Mehak, Palak and Heena are my best friends as we are always together! 

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. I love to dance

Q. How do you come to the centre? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most. 

A. I take the school bus and I love coming to school! I like playing in school. 

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/ least favourite part? 

A.  Once we reach here, we pray, then we get breakfast in the canteen and then we head to our class. I love when I am dancing in school! 

Q. Tell us your favourite subject.

A. I love English 

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

A. I want to become a doctor as I would want to help other people. 

Q. What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Angry? 

A. I do not like it when someone takes my seat in class and that makes me angry. 

Q. Tell us what you love, what/who inspires you? Why?           

A. I love food and I wish to keep eating always!

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “I Love My School Because I Have Friends Here,” Reveals Mantasha.

Q. What is your name, age? Where do you live?

A.  I am Mantasha, I am 15-year old and living in Bandra.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. I come by school bus or sometimes walk and come to school. At home, I live with my parents, grandparents and four brothers. I have many friends such as Ridhi, Rekha, Umesalma, Maharooq. Some of them are with me on the school bus and we talk a lot!

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. I love talking to my friends especially when teachers are not around.

Q. How do you come to the centre? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most.

A. I take the school bus to reach here. I love playing badminton here.

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/ least favourite part?

A. I come here and study and meet my friends and I have so many friends in school! I like everything here but I struggle using the skipping rope.

Q. Tell us your favourite subject.

A. I like Math because it is so much fun!

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

A. I want to go to college, learn how to use the computer and work.

Q. What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Angry?

A. I am happy when I can understand all the subjects that are taught in school, but I am scared of insects and do not like them.

Q. Tell us what you love, what inspires you or who inspires you? Why?          

A. I love movies! Alia Bhat and Varun Dhawan are my favourites!

Q. If you had one superpower, what would you like to do/change about your life?

A. I would win all the matches in Badminton!

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “I Want To Become a Doctor When I Grow Up,” Says Mehak.

Q. What is your name, age? Where do you live?

A.  I am Mehak, I am 11-years-old living in Dharavi.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. In my house, I have my parents and siblings. Humza, Falak, Chavni are my friends because we do everything together.

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. I like playing carrom.

Q. How do you come to the centre? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most.

A. I take a bus to come to school, I like school, but sometimes I get bored as it requires to me get up early and come to school.

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/ least favourite part?

A. I come here to study and meet my friends. I like all my friends and also like drawing.

Q. Tell us your favourite subject

A. Maths is my favourite subject.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

A. I want to become a doctor because I’d like to help people!

Q. What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Angry?

A. I do not like waking up in the morning every day and I feel angry.

Q. If you had one superpower, what would you like to do/change about your life?

A. I will play without any restrictions!

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “I Love Drawing,” Shares Shifan.

Q. What is your name, age? Where do you live?

A.  I am Shifan, I am 15-years-old living and I live in Bandra.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. I stay with Ammi, Abu, and I have my 3 siblings. Ayush is my best friend because I can talk with him about.

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. I like to watch movies.

Q. How do you come to the centre? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most.

A. I take a BEST bus to come to school. I like school because it is a nice place to study. I like drawing the most in school.

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/ least favourite part?

A. I come here to study and I also get very tasty and healthy food!

Q. Tell us your favourite subject.

A. Drawing!

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

A. I will grow up and do a job soon!

Q. What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Angry?

A. I like being with my friends and like coming to school.

Q. If you had one superpower, what would you like to do/change about your life?

A. I will keep playing.

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “I Will Become a Hero When I Grow Up! Declares Danish.

Q. What is your name, age? Where do you live?

A.  I am Danish Siddique, I am 19 years old and I live in Bandra.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. In my house, I have my Ammi, Abu, and three siblings. I am the youngest of all. Osama is my best friend as he is my childhood friend. 

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. I like watching TV, movies and I love all Salman Khan Movies.

Q. How do you come to the centre? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most.

A. I take a bus to reach the school. I like to study and play.

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/ least favourite part?

A. We come here and first do our prayers and have a banana. Post that we study. I like all the food that we get here and dal chawal is my favourite. My least favourite thing to do is play table tennis. It is so difficult and I cannot play the sport.

Q. Tell us your favourite subject

A. I love both English and Hindi.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

A. I will either become a hero or run by own business.

Q. What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Angry?

A I feel angry and sad whenever I have a fight with my friends. I am the happiest when I am being mischievous or studying in class. I get good grades and always come first in my class.

Q. India is an independent country. Did you know that? What does that mean?

A. Yes, I know that India is a free country and it is an independent country.

Q. What does independence mean to you?

A. I do not like it when someone tells me what to do and I feel sad. For me, being independent means being on my own without any restrictions.

Q. Tell us what you love, what inspires you or who inspires you? Why?          

A. Shah Rukh Khan! He is my inspiration     

Q. If you had one superpower, what would you like to do/change about your life?

A. I will do lots of mischief and never want to be caught for it!

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “I Wish To Go To College” Rekha Tells Us.

Q. What is your name, age? Where do you live?

A.  I am Rekha, 18-year old living in Chunabhati.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. I have a big family and we are 10 members including my grandparents, siblings and parents. My best friend is Umesalma because we have been friends for so long and we do everything together!

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. Badminton! I love playing Badminton.

Q. How do you come to the centre? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most.

A. I take local transport and change two buses. First I take 505 and then I take the 10 or 7 number bus. Trains are always crowded and I prefer coming to school by bus.

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/ least favourite part?

A. Learning English is my favourite part of coming to school

Q. Tell us your favourite subject

A. English and Maths.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

A. I will first go to college and then earn lots of money! I also wish to work in a beauty parlour.

Q. What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Angry?

A. Coming to school makes me happy!

Q. Tell us what you love, what inspires you or who inspires you? Why?           

A. Ranveer Singh! He is so good.    

Q. If you had one superpower, what would you like to do/change about your life?

A. I am good at running so I would want to win every race I participate in!

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.

#ThisAbilityMatters – “I Will Rule the World,” Says 15-Year-Old Abhujar

Q. What is your name, age? Where do you live?

A.  I am Abhujar, 15-year old living in Bandra.

Q. Tell us about your family and friends. Who is your best friend? Why?

A. I have two sisters and my parents. I am the youngest but the naughtiest of all!

Viraj, Prateek, Abdul, Kudir, Atharv all of these are my best friend as we do everything together!

Q. What do you like doing in your free time?

A. I love to cycle with my friends, play cricket, football and table tennis till late evening. Post dinner, I am glued to the television and love watching Aladin.

Q. How do you come to the centre? Do you like coming here? Tell us what you like the most.

A. I take the local transport and come to school in the BEST bus. I love coming to school because the studies are good, I have my friends here and also like the food. We get everything from Dal Chawal, Biryani to Pulav.

Q. What do you come here and do? Which is your favourite/ least favourite part?

A. I was recently shifted to a new class and got separated from all my friends. I do not like it. I like playing cricket. Dhoni is my ekdum ‘Ek number’!

Q. Tell us your favourite subject

A. Currently, I am learning to make spices in school and I like that.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

A. I want to become a cricketer or I will become a businessman!

Q. What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Angry?

A. I like being naughty and teasing all children, however, now I do not do that because then parents come to school and compliant about me!

Q. Tell us what you love, what inspires you or who inspires you? Why?          

A. I love Dhoni!

Q. India is an independent country. Did you know that? What does that mean?

A. Yes, India was first ruled by the British and now it is a free country!

Q. What does freedom mean to you?

A. Freedom means to do things the way I like them.

Q. If you had one superpower, what would you like to do/change about your life?

A. I will rule the world! I will fight and win over everyone!

#ThisAbilityMatters is a co-created campaign with Save The Children India that aims to push the discourse on the need for self-reliance and independence of India’s disabled children.