A sensory park with play equipment for strengthening physical, mental health of intellectually challenged children

October 01, 2022 06:29 pm | Updated 06:29 pm IST - TIRUNELVELI

Collector V. Vishnu at the sensory park set up on the Red Cross Society premises in Palayamkottai.

Collector V. Vishnu at the sensory park set up on the Red Cross Society premises in Palayamkottai. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For the first time in southern Tamil Nadu, the district administration has created in Palayamkottai a ‘sensory park’ with play equipment, which have been installed with the primary objective of improving the physical and mental health of intellectually challenged children through play-way method.

 As the Red Cross Building on Tiruchendur Road, a colonial structure, was not being optimally used, Mr. Vishnu, who took over the District Club premises near St. Xavier’s College for establishing Tamil Nadu Startup Initiative office, also took control of the Red Cross building for establishing the Differently Abled Resource Training Centre.

 The refurbished building, after the establishment of the resource center, now houses Early Intervention Centre for intellectually disabled children, Redington Training and Placement Centre for equipping the physically challenged youth with employable skills, Vocational Training Centre for the differently-abled adult and sensory park with play equipment for the physically and intellectually challenged children.

 The Early Intervention Centre for children between 0 to 7 years of age, being run by St. Anne’s Early Intervention Centre for Intellectual Disability, now has 20 children from Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai, all suffering from autism, Down’s syndrome, hyperactivity, cerebral palsy and other intellectual disability. Besides giving these children speech therapy, the trainers here give the children physiotherapy, basic training like brushing the teeth, going to toilet, bathing, eye-hand coordination, sensory activities and other occupational therapy.

 “We assess their intellectual ability with proven tools at the time of admission and start our training to improve their living conditions. Based on the findings of the screening, we train the children. Since they have to attain physical and mental strength, the sensory park with the play equipment are of great help,” says T. Rathna, a trainer at the Early Intervention Centre.

The Correspondent of Pushpalata Educational Institutions, Pushpalata Pooranan, has sponsored the play equipment installed at a cost of ₹7.65 lakh. Even the swing installed in this park has been designed to safely accommodate intellectually challenged children who will otherwise fall from a normal swing.

 As the children are made to walk without footwear on the 8-shaped structure with pebble flooring, the protruding pebbles press the tiny feet mildly to ensure increased blood circulation which would strengthen the legs, the trainers say.

 “The equipment we have here strengthen their hands, legs and the body as a whole besides increasing their concentration. As the children play in small groups, they, who would usually be alone in their own world, try to communicate with each other with the trainers encouraging them to speak. So, this sensory park will play a greater role in strengthening the children physically and intellectually,” says Ms. Rathna.

 Since the play area has no shade, the children find it difficult to use the play equipment after 10 a.m. As this was brought to the knowledge of the Collector, he has promised to look into it.

 “We’ll erect a huge shed to keep all 11 play equipment under the shade so that the children can use it throughout the day,” Mr. Vishnu said.

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