On Tuesday, when Collector Anshul Mishra stepped into a special school, he was given a rousing welcome by the children with various deformities. He interacted with them for a long time. A child took his mobile phone. After a pause she started looking at it expressing happiness and even showed keen interest in playing with it. But when the phone started ringing, the child returned it to the Collector.

Another boy said, “vanakkam ayya” in a loud voice to which the Collector reciprocated. After shaking hands with some other children, when he was enquiring with the staff about the activities held in the special school, a boy intervened to say, “I had egg this morning.”

Children with physical ailments and mental retardation are being managed by the Sarva Siksha Abiyan (SSA). The special school at Chathiram near Tirumangalam has about 25 children. They are given training to walk with helpers with play materials attached to it.

Apart from providing food, the children also get speech therapist and physio-therapist training at periodic intervals. When some of the parents learnt about the visit of the Collector, they expressed satisfaction about the activities at the special school. “We are not confident of handling our children, which was missing earlier,” some of them told him.

The womenfolk had an appeal as well. They wanted the frequency of the experts’ visit to be increased to at least thrice a week as it would give the children faster recovery. The Collector told that he would examine the possibilities after discussing with the SSA officials. The staff also wanted some more domestic help (ayahs) for the special school. The special school is gaining so much popularity in rural areas that four more centres in the district have been earmarked for enrolling special children. As an official said, “our aim is to rehabilitate children with deformities swiftly so that they join mainstream in the society as soon as possible.”

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