Moving Ahead...

On the last day of the academic year 2023-2024 ending on 12th April 2024, 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.

Over the past 18 years, about 228 children have been successfully enrolled in the mainstream schools/special Schools, 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 16th Moving ahead we are celebrating. During the years 2019-20, 2020-2021 we had missed the Moving Ahead due to the pandemic. This year 13 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. Thirteen 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 the Chief Guest. Their teachers stood by the side of the screen signalling to the children to wish him and 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 and other therapies on how to use one’s individual strengths through individualized programme 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 vocational 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 – “Katterumbuku Kadhu Kuthal” the children of EIC performed an action song “Chinna Chittu Kuruviye” and the Children of Jivikam performed the concluding dance of the programme.

Parents spoke about their experiences in reaching thus far. Mrs. Jayalakshmi mother of student Kirthik B said she owes a lot to MNC. It was here that her chld became verbal and the foundation MNC laid helped him to mainstream in 2019-2020. Luckily for him the teachers at his mainstream school were very supportive and he is now in the 4th standard. She said that she can never forget the sincerity with which the special educators at MNC helped them to achieve this. Mrs. Sudha mother of student Partha who is now working in a private firm said that she had been in MNC for a very short time but during her stay she became an effective carry over agent and the efforts she had systematically put in as advised by MNC bore fruits. Both the mothers stressed on how important Early Intervention was and how effective it is later in life.

Mr. Karthikeyan Ganesan, Founder, Sristi Foundation, Villupuram 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. He said Sristi focuses on vocational training and children should be allowed to take part in outdoor activities from a young age. This will pave away for them to pursue vocations like farming, dairy farming or any outdoor activity. He advised the mothers to look after themselves and to have a life for themselves and not to become so obsessed with the special child that they have no space of their own. This will eventually lead to stress and fatigue and wear them out. Along with providing all assistance to the child the mother should have a life of her own was his advice.

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