What could be a better tool than Indian theatre that encompasses music, dance, drama, art and crafts to teach life skills to special children? But it took a visionary like Ambika Kameshwar to harness arts as a teaching tool. “Theatre is a reflection and microcosm of life, and it addresses every aspect of communication. Since the theatre experience is so fulfilling, the learning of skills through it becomes joyful,” says Ambika, dancer, choreographer, researcher, educationist and founder-director of Ramana Sunritya Aalaya (RASA). The development tool called THD (Theatre arts for Holistic Development) that she designed has been an effective tool in developing motor, cognitive, self-help , language and communication, social and academic skills in thousands of special children over the last few decades. Once trained, some of these children at RASA have been helped into mainstream schools and offices, while others have been placed in suitable vocational jobs in sheltered environments.
“All said and done, we have a tendency to isolate (challenged persons). Even the tag of ‘special’ children is a reflection of this. This is something I want to break. I see ability in every child; there is always something he or she can be good at,” says Ambika. “Inclusion is my life’s mission, and theatre arts facilitates it beautifully.”