How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way.
EXPANDING OUR HORIZONS
One of the ways in which we work is by creating partnerships with like-minded people who are looking at exploring and understanding learning.
BOAT is a registered trust based in Delhi (2013) built on the concept of art as a tool and a process for healing and capacity building. Its primary function is to build capacity for those who are in the act of healing on psycho-social lines using the arts as a methodology to reach out. That means the arts act as a great mirror to the psychology and the social construct of a group that has been marginalized. BOAT works in the areas of capacity building for all those who are working with children, and youth in institutions that cater to people at risk. The capacity building would be for all those who are interested in using the arts as a methodology to connect and care for communities.
The idea behind BOAT, Building on Art Therapy, is building capacity among caregivers, teachers, and staff to work with a variety of creative arts in the context of conflict work with children and youth; and also directly work with children and youth using the creative arts as a process to allow the children to self- express. However the idea is not to be so methodology centric but the idea of “building” that is to build a view among various communities, a framework of looking at how suffering can be engaged with by having the right understanding, the right view.
CO-LOCATION WITH SNEHADHARA
The intent of our workshops with BOAT is to enable the process to build capacity for the team at Snehadhara. The aim is to understand the role of creative arts in all its myriad forms in the diverse learning spaces that we create for the children. It is to push ourselves to look at healing, learning and capacity building within ourselves differently.To develop and strengthen our skills, instincts, abilities and processes , to use our resources and build on them so that we can take it forward to children/spaces that we engage with or then have an enhanced potential to interact with. We build our capacity to learn and understand as individuals as well as a team so that the quality and growth of the program is enhanced.
A stated mission for us has always been bridging developmental deficits in education and inclusion. A method to achieve that is by creating learning opportunities for children with special needs to be able to achieve independence and empowerment while addressing potential vocational and livelihood goals. In this context, we are proud to be partnering with Ishanya, who is stepping into offer children/adults from Snehadhara, an experience of assistive technologies with the long-term purpose of building of vocational skills. The children are working on their communication skills using various technology related interventions such as computers, apps, video modelling and other hand-held devices. This is just the beginning and there are many more wonderful areas to explore in this field.
Ishanya, the brainchild of Sharmila Jois Vellal and Swathi Vellal Ragunandan, shares our vision of an inclusive society and envisions assisting and empowering individuals with special needs to unlock their abilities and to spread the message of inclusion. They believe in providing an environment which encourages each individual’s learning while focusing on an all-round, holistic development of each child.
They cater to individuals with needs like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Learning Disabilites, ADHD and provide services like Communication and skill training, Technology assisted intervention, Remedial classes, art, photography and keyboard classes. They also provide individual and group counselling and support sessions for parents of children with needs and work with schools in setting up inclusive classrooms and resource rooms.
At Snehadhara we have seen that respect and understanding grow when children of differing abilities have the opportunity to play and learn together. Last year, through Snehasangiti, our collaborative gurukul, we were able to put into practise our hope of creating such a community of learners. One of the first schools to be a part of this pilot is the Kids’ Corner School at JP Nagar.
The openness, sincerity and earnestness with which Rajeshwari Doddamani Thayyil, the Principal of Kids’ Corner School at JP Nagar, Bangalore has extended support only goes on to further our belief that inclusion must be woven into the fabric of any effort so that it deflects the possibility of exclusion itself.
Our children were hosted with grace, delight, respect and joy at the Kids Corner premises every Wednesday and amidst the artistic domain of songs and music, play and games, paint s, colour and balloons a beautiful dialogue emerged. Sometimes the children of Kids Corner were invited to events which they shared with the children at Snehadhara in varied outdoor spaces. The intent remained for them to partake of each other’s worlds and savour the uniqueness of the diverse spaces.
Carrying forward this conversation between the two groups of children from Snehadhara and Kids Corner, we continue in 2017-18 with the same model of buddying one another, learning from each other. Learning, not just tangible forms but also communicating with, receiving from , rejoicing in, sharing with and cheering each other.
Taking the engagement to another level, this year children from Snehadhara will once again visit Kids Corner as well as reciprocate the gesture by receiving the children from there at Snehadhara once a week too.
A dual engagement in this manner would only serve to enhance the social competence, acceptance and allowance for both groups.
Snehadhara has been fortunate to partner with Leave UR Mark, a social enterprise that supports Indian NGOs, foundations, and startups with talented and passionate international interns. The interns come from around the world to make an impact, do work that’s meaningful for local communities, and contribute their own cultural insights to local staff.
The interns that have come to Snehadhara have been a wonderful addition to the Snehadhara community and have enriched us with their warmth, passion and dedication.