Mumbai

Creating a level-playing field

Children and adults with special needs participate in sports day organised by students of city college

There was a broad smile on the face of Alok Mishra (22) as he patiently waited to get the ball from the players in his team, who rolled it between their legs before passing it to those behind them. He was part of a team playing ‘Tunnel Ball’.

The smiles, enthusiasm and loud laughter made Mr. Mishra forget that he has been suffering from filariasis elephantiasis (elephant foot disease) for the past 12 years, making it difficult to walk. And like him, 79 children and adults with special needs let themselves go at S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) campus in Andheri over the weekend. They were all participants in the sports day, Aasra, organised by the SPJIMR students under their flagship event, SPRINT, a business school sports fest.

“Through Aasra, we wanted to reinforce that sports is for everyone and the only thing that differentiates one person from another is the fire and passion within,” said Sreenath Nair, the convener for SPRINT. The participants were members of three NGOs, Om Creations Trust, Shraddha Charitable Trust and Adapt. The youngest participant was 16 years old while the oldest was 65.

Given that the participants had different intellectual and physical disabilities, it was not possible to organise sports that involved a lot of hand-eye coordination, said Mr. Nair. Under the guidance of the volunteers from the NGOs, events that could be performed in two to three steps were organised, such as tunnel ball, back-to-back ball and dodge ball. “All three activities were simple,” said Rajat Handa from the organising student committee. In the back-to-back activity, for instance, two young adults had to stand back to back with a ball placed between them. The task was to complete 50m without dropping the ball. In case they dropped the ball, they would have to stop and start over.

The young adults were segregated into groups based on the severity of their challenges. Segments were also based on gender. Sharmin Tangiri (27), said she enjoyed the games thoroughly and would have loved to play the whole day. Ilaveni Raiyan (25) also expressed happiness and said she liked the back-to-back ball activity the most.

Dr. Radhike Khanna, Trustee of Shraddha Charitable Trust, said, “Initiatives like these create first-hand knowledge of how to integrate intellectual disability into the mainstream. Because the students kept the activities simple, the participants enjoyed themselves thoroughly.”

A special activity ‘throw ball’ game was designed for the three young adults who were wheelchair-bound and hence could not participate in the other events. “The primary aim was to involve all the participants in group activities and make each one of them feel included,” said Mr. Nair. A total of 30 medals were given away to winners.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 10:16:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/creating-a-level-playing-field/article22399717.ece

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