Moving Ahead...

On the last day of the academic year 2022-2023 ending on 20th April 2023, we celebrated the graduation ceremony of our tiny tots who are Moving Ahead - which is, facilitating Children with Developmental Delays/Mental Retardation to move on to school education in special and mainstream schools on completion of the Early Intervention Program, Upanayan at MNC.

SSo far about 200 children have been successfully enrolled in the mainstream schools/special Schools, over the past 17 years, since Moving Ahead was initiated. Now, starting in 2007 we have celebrated moving ahead every academic year end and this year it will be the 15th Moving ahead we are celebrating. During the years 2019-20, 2020-2021 we had missed the Moving Ahead due to the pandemic. 17 children will be moving to other special schools or to our Jivikam Skill Development Unit.

This has been a significant contribution by MNC towards habilitating the children with developmental delays. It is indeed an occasion for celebration for each child moving out from Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children to the outside world. Seventeen children fidgeted with their graduation gowns on the dais, their mothers anxious and proud at the back of them holding them by their shoulders to steady them to receive gifts from Mr. S Seetharaman, Chairman, Super Auto Forge P ltd, the Chief Guest of the day. Their teachers stood by the side of the screen signalling to the children to wish and greet the chief guest and to thank him for the gift.

Each child was a child with Developmental Delay, each of a different type, level and degree. For each child management of the disability has been the greatest challenge. It was therefore a matter of pride for both the teacher and the parent that these children with Early Intervention, have met the challenges satisfactorily and become eligible to enter special schools or vocational schools. In the process the children have been guided and directed by the Special Educators, therapists, combined with music, yoga and play therapy on how to use one’s individual strengths through individualized programmes plans. Learning the required age appropriate skills in activities of daily living, thereby building bridges wherever there were developmental delays, and reaching the goals set in the developmental areas in their own pace and time has been the focus of the programme..

The Special School system offers special education in functional academics and prepares them for specialized vocation training in later school years. This stream of education would equip them with the required skills needed for a suitable and meaningful occupation in adult years and thereby help then become more and more self dependant in activities of daily living.

The support system from the centre namely 'Sanmargam' - “Good Direction” is a project formalizing the ‘mainstreaming’ of children with special needs after receiving their early intervention in the Upanayan Early Intervention Programme at Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children. The project is aimed at hand holding and guiding the mainstream school teaching staff for a period of three years to manage our children who have arrived at their doorsteps.

The culmination of Early Intervention is “Moving Ahead’ celebrated every year on the last academic day. The children donned their graduation gowns, received a school bag as gift and exhibited their talents by presenting skits, action songs etc. This year there were three presentations by the children. The children Moving Ahead performed a skit – “He who tries succeeds,” the children of EIC performed an action song and the Children of Jivikam danced to the tune of Naatu Naatu the Oscar winning song. This was followed by a dance by the parents.

Parents spoke about their experiences in reaching thus far. Mrs. Lakshmi mother of a student Daniel said that she owes a lot to MNC. Her son Daniel had no toilet training, no sitting tolerance, and no speech when she came to MNC and could not participate in any of the daily living activities at all. It was after coming to MNC that he could say a few words and is capable of wearing his own dress, grooming himself and to perform other daily living activities. She was very emotional when she said that the early days were difficult for her as she had no guidance as to how to take care of a special child. It was MNC that empowered her to do so. Mrs. Deepalakshmi mother of Madhumitha spoke about her daughter. It was MNC that helped her daughter to acquire academic skills and now the child is studying plus one. Success stories like this encourage the mothers of newly admitted students to continue Early Intervention in spite of all hardships.

Mr. S Seetharman appreciated the teachers and the management for doing such a noble service to the disability sector and promised to help in whatever way was possible by him.

The ceremony came to an end with the National anthem and light refreshments.