This Diwali, sunshine on exhibition in Vashi

Differently-abled students of Sunshine School have worked all year to put up an exhibition-cum-sale of Diwali artefacts

October 24, 2016 09:40 pm | Updated 09:40 pm IST

Navi Mumbai  22/10/2016  Picture to go with Raina Assainar's story.  Mentally challenged  Kids Exhibit Their Art .  Photo by Yogesh Mhatre

Navi Mumbai 22/10/2016 Picture to go with Raina Assainar's story. Mentally challenged Kids Exhibit Their Art . Photo by Yogesh Mhatre

MUMBAI: Paramita Mazumdar points to the projector and a microwave owen with some pride. Bought with the proceeds from last year’s Diwali exhibition put up by the 20 differently-abled children from Sunshine School, which she helped found, the projector and microwave oven — used for e-learning and to teach baking to the kids — are examples of what the children can achieve if they set their minds to it.

This year, the students have strived to outdo themselves at the annual two-day exhibition, laying out an array of diyas , torans , decorative rangoli and jewellery among other articles that they spent the whole year making. This, incidentally, is the exhibition’s fourth year. While the pre-vocational and vocational team at Sunshine School have provided dedicated guidance with the help of support staff and two volunteers, children who have spent considerable time in vocational training can boast of having made their artefacts without help.

Run by Sunshine Education Society, the school was started 10 years ago to facilitate teaching differently-abled children, including those with autism, Down’s syndrome and mental developmental disability. When the first batch of students turned 12, the school felt it was time to introduce vocational training.

The training is in stages: at 12, teachers and support staff work with the children to hone their gross and fine motor skills. This process helps such children master daily activities, from buttoning their shirts and making phone calls to being able to shop and follow traffic lights. At 15, the children find themselves capable of making artefacts and items, like those at the exhibition.

Sunshine School, with 80 students, doesn’t have its own premises and operates from the basement of the IES Primary School in Vashi, Sector-2. Ms. Mazumder, the principal, says they don’t have government funding as yet. “We run the school with the primary objective of establishing a full-fledged sheltered workshop for the older students, assuring them of an income and independent living.” Sheltered workshops are dedicated employment endeavours for the differently-abled to develop their vocational skills.

The writer is a freelance journalist

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