Herald: Bicholim school uses sport to develop their special children!
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Bicholim school uses sport to develop their special children!

30 Sep 2018 05:26am IST
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30 Sep 2018 05:26am IST
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Rahul Chandawarkar travels to Keshav Seva Sadhana’s school for special children in Bicholim to see how sports is being used to enhance student development.

It is 11am and an energetic game of basketball has just commenced at the Keshav Seva Sadhana’s Narayan Zantye school for special children in Bicholim. Two teams, one in orange and the other in green have locked horns in what promises to be a closely fought contest. This is hardly surprising, considering that student development through sports is the dominant mantra in this school.

The game is being played at a fairly rapid pace. The young men run quickly past their opponents, pass very well and their strikers are finding the net. There is raucous cheering from their juniors and peers who are watching them with interest. Pramod Gawas, a tall lad representing the green team is the pick of the players shooting three ‘baskets’ in rapid succession and raising his hand in a victory salute every time he does so. However, it is the orange team that wins.

Speaking to the Herald post the game, Pramod said, “I love this game. It allows me to run fast and shoot.”

Explaining the philosophy for the use of sports in the rehabilitation and education of special children, Premanand Naik, the PT instructor said, “We have realised that sports helps develop the motor skills and enhances limb movement in special children. We introduce the younger children first to ‘minor sports’ and ‘fun games’ like jumping over tyres or running and fetching objects or picking up objects and fixing them on ropes. Most children love sports and willingly attend the school because of the promise of a sports hour.”

School headmistress Sanjana Prabhudesai seconds Naik’s theory and said, “Most of our children are intellectually deficient. However, the association with active sports has helped in their overall development. They are less hyperactive and more attentive in their academics and vocational subjects.”

Naik cannot stop singing praises for basketball. “I feel basketball is tailor made for special children. The ball is big and easy to grip. It allows the children to exercise their fingers, arms and elbows. They also burn a lot of calories with the constant running.  To top it all, it is a team sport and encourages team work.”

With the so much support from their teachers, any wonder that the students are excelling at sport at the national and international level. One of the students, Sunny Kalangutkar bagged a silver medal in the handball event representing India at the Special Games in Athens, Greece in 2011, while Pooja Resham won the floor hockey gold representing the country at the Special Games in South Korea in 2013. More recently, the trio of Kushal Resham, Riya Gawde and Urmila Parab won the gold, silver and bronze medals respectively representing India in roller skating at the Special Games in USA in 2015. Says Kushal, “Roller skating is fast and exciting. I practice one hour every day in school.”

The school which is 14 years old, has a spacious building, is well equipped and spotlessly clean. According to Bipin Natekar, one of the school trustees this is thanks to the support of several corporates like Colorcon Asia Pvt Limited, Dempo Group, Hindustan Petroleum, Denora and ACGL among others. There are as many as 25 special educators teaching the 140 special children on the rolls. The children are aged between three and 35 years of age and there are several buses deployed by the school to ferry the students from their homes to school and back.

According to the headmistress Prabhudesai, besides sport, the students are taught functional academics which include basic skills like bathing, dressing and social etiquette. They are also taught music, dance, art and craft.

Nitin Valvaikar, the vocational education teacher who walked me through the art and crafts classes, gave me a glimpse of the colourful lanterns and diyas being readied for the forthcoming Diwali festival. In most classrooms, children could be seen either painting diyas, or making lanterns or simply drawing and painting in their art class.

According to Valvaikar, the school routinely puts up stalls to sell their Diwali merchandise in some ten corporates across Goa. Likewise, for the Raakhi festival, they put up stalls inside 25 schools. What is heartening to note is that the profits generated are distributed to the students in the form of ‘stipends’.

According to Valvaikar, efforts were being made to find jobs for their older students in small offices and shops where routine work is involved. “We will be happy if small companies approach us with job offers too,” Valvaikar said.

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