It has been our continued mission to offer a rich and vibrant experience to the children coming into our Direct Care, Monday through Friday, through the Uhuru programme. The curriculum of Uhuru, is designed to enhance the childrens’ skills and achieve therapeutic goals.
“To develop a complete mind, study the science of art, the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
-Leonardo da Vinci
Uhuru, which means freedom in Swahili is our Arts Based Therapy program for children with special needs . Art Based Therapy (ABT) is the evidence-based use of multi-art forms that includes music, drama, dance, play, fine arts, imagination and story-telling to accomplish individualised goals within a therapeutic relationship. Arts based therapy enhances development through the deliberate combination and involvement of both the body and the mind. This unique approach holistically addresses the critical dimensions of development namely cognition, behaviour and social skills.
ABT aims at enhancing these basic capacities so that practitioners create for themselves a vocabulary of creative arts-based techniques which they can apply along with assessment, therapeutic objectives and evaluation.
The use of arts and healing forms the bedrock to therapy and learning in this program. A team of ABT Practitioners trained and certified by World Centre for Creative Learning Foundation (WCCLF), Pune, conduct ABT sessions in Uhuru.
Highlights of the Program
Uhuru, our Monday to Friday programme, focuses on the children’s skills and goals. The curriculum is designed to achieve the therapeutic goals and enhance their skills.
The domains and goals worked on for the larger objective are:
- Body – Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Oro- Motor, Physical Agility and Alertness
- Attention – Levels of Attention – Focussed, Sustained, Divided attention
- Cognitive – Auditory Speech Discrimination, Spatial Reasoning, Non-verbal Thinking
- Group interaction – Cooperation, Assertion, Self-control
- Narrative Capability – Vocalization, Basic vocabulary, Descriptive Speech
- Expressive Capability – Self Expression through the Arts
These goals form the basis of the one on one and group sessions that the children are a part of during the day/week. The routines and schedules that they follow during the day/week as well as the exposure to a diverse range of programs enables the effective implementation of the above.
Implementation of the Program
The Uhuru program opens its portals to each new year at Snehadhara with the Summer School program. Over the years though the program has evolved in form and content, it continues to retain its intent of providing children vivid experiences within and outside the centre that serve to enhance their goals of social interaction and independence.
Every year we create new memories of what epitomises Summer Vacations. It has often been about visiting friends and relatives and making new friends in new places.
Summer School 2018-2019 presented Meil Milaap, as the focus of the month of April where we ventured out to each other’s homes and other welcoming spaces to share our ‘sunful’ joy and partake of the generosity of our hosts. We devised a large canvas for ourselves to harness every possible ray of senses to touch and feel and explore; there was song and dance and paint, lots and lots of paint and colour as well as food in many hues, textures and tantalising tastes.
We believe what we learn outside the classroom is equally and a lot more important than what we learn inside. Each year our Summer School edition brings to children experiences where learning is fun and fun is learning. Dhoop Dhamal 2017 offered expeditions into the world of culinary delights, object theatre, dance and movement and wondrous weaves. It paved the way for a different experience in the culinary world for our children. They cooked together, they served together, they powered their creativity and gave a kick start to the cafe ‘Obattoo’. The highlight of the summer school was the 3 day trip to Devaraya Samudra, an excursion that created learning opportunities beyond the confines of boundaries and opened up a world of beauty and warmth.
The summer school ‘Atota Lakmose’ this year was a six week program that saw a heterogeneous group of children- the children at the center, their siblings and friends- experience art in its various forms. The children together enjoyed sessions in visual art, storytelling, puppetry, baking, gardening, pottery, dance and movement, and theatre. The various learnings from the summer school culminated with an hour long performance at ‘Paradigm Shift Café’.
Structure Of The Day
Each year at Snehadhara opens itself to fresh perspectives. The year 2018-2019 witnessed a change in the structure of the day with renewed timings. The day began at 8.30 am for the children followed by Circle Time where each group welcomed the day with music and songs. This was followed by breakfast and two morning sessions that included group sessions as well as one on one and ABT sessions. At lunch the children and adults ate together, children buddied with adults. Lunchtime and naptime led to two afternoon sessions where on any typical day the children were a part of sessions in classrooms as well as outdoor sessions. Closure of the day was at 3.15 pm and by 3.30 pm the children bid goodbye to the centre.
The Obattoo Cafe under the Oota Thota programme continued to see our master chefs cook and serve a buffet of dishes on Mondays and on Tuesdays Hamari Rasoi opened up new learnings for the children through the kitchen.
Besides the activities at the centre, under our Classroom without Walls endeavour, some children went to Kid’s Corner school for Snehasangiti on every Tuesday, furthering our effort towards creating a community of empathetic, compassionate learners. Another addition to this year’s goals for social interaction for the children were the Home Visits, on Thursdays where they visited each other’s homes, welcoming each other into theirs, meeting families and enjoying each other’s hospitality.
A glimpse of some of the sessions that the children were exposed to:
There were regular sessions with ABT practitioners who work towards achieving therapeutic goals for the children across domains. The ABT sessions focussed on verbal and non-verbal expression, sequencing and forming associations, reciprocal communication and joint attention as well as balance and coordination.
We believe that play is important to a child’s development and learning. It is a central way through which most children express their impulse to experiment and understand. We continued to explore the children’s response to directive and non-directive play settings and its impact on cognitive, social and emotional domains of learning.
JOURNALING – SUNFLOWER- THE INHOUSE SF JOURNAL
Keeping the concept of self and other in mind, these sessions moved towards creating an in-house journal as a way of working on communication, to introduce a medium of sharing information-personal, social, updates, happenings in school; in varied forms – photography, writing small articles, interviews, poems and more.
SELF-EXPRESSION USING THEATRE
These sessions largely student led, involved Theatre games – such as gibberish, action songs, activities that called for imitation of movements, sound, and roles and other ‘check-in’ activities that enabled each person to share something small about them.
HOUSEFUL – OF JOY AND ARTISTIC ENDEAVOUR
Watching a performance together can be as thrilling as singing in harmony or acting in a multi-cast play. In the second term, as an inhouse event for our children, we decided to welcome, performing artists – musicians, singers, dancers, magicians, actors, story-tellers, beat-boxers – to open new worlds for us through their art.
The intimate settings of these performances, followed by small workshops allowed our students to taste the wide and varied possibilities that the arts can enable. Our attempt through ‘Houseful’ was to create experiences that allow us to be touched by another’s creativity, as well as engage in the process of co-creating an artistic space.
‘Houseful’ – is our attempt to collectively linger in artistic spaces – witness and soak in the magic of creativity as creators and artists in our own lives.
The artists who shared their craft with us this year were Praveen Alva, Madhulika Srivatsa, ACTS Harmony-the choir of the ACTS Secondary School, Bindhu Malini, Archana Kumar and Ramya Nagaraj.
Through our program Sparsh – stories that live within our bodies, last year we have explored creative therapeutic processes allowing children to communicate and dialogue with the stories around growing up and staying connected with their bodies. The sessions interweaved drawing and painting with body & movement, conversations about body awareness through reading together relevant books, a secret bowl/box to give insight on their thoughts and a safe place for the children to pose their queries, for boys-physical work out to redirect some energy through a routine, for girls-independence in managing their bodies and its functions and developing fine motor and attention skills, ritual and personal story telling to empower the children in achieving simple activities of daily living as well as understand sexuality. We have started this year’s journey with a workshop for parents to bring together all those working with the child in a guided manner to explore questions around growing up, sexuality and vulnerabilities.
Classroom Without Walls – We open ourselves to learning beyond the bounds of the center
Treevelling is about travelling to meet trees and revel in them. The intent of the exercise is not just to celebrate trees but to track the impressions that trees leave on our consciousness. This is important because those impressions could become the fodder for much learning about our own bodies, our feelings about our bodies, its relationship with the earth, our perception of our self, our aspirations and our contexts of being and becoming.
We introduced the children to treevelling sessions aiming to stimulate instinctive ways of learning, observing, recording and communicating – internally and externally.
The methodology used was to expose the children to trees, leaves, grass, stones, seeds, clay, paper, fabric, colours, photographs and other materials, mostly natural, gradually. It involved silent walks in the park and repeated interactions with trees chosen by the children. They were invited and given space to engage with the materials and sensorial triggers in their own ways. They were facilitated to observe the materials as deeply as possible and record their impressions over a few sessions. Their engagement with the materials and their responses was tracked.
KAHANI GHAR GHAR KI – Home Visits
The summer school Meil Milaap initiated us with the concept of home visits. It was a wonderful beginning for the children to deepen interaction within their groups. The warmth and welcome they received in each other’s homes, the opportunity they got to interact with different people, explore diverse spaces and partake of varied rituals that are a part and parcel of every family, inspired us to give further impetus to this endeavour. Thus was born to our Classroom without Walls program – Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki- Home Visits.
As a part of our Classroom without Walls programme, each parent hosted the group of his/her child for about 2.5 hours approx. once in two months. They also got a chance to receive their friends in their space, understand formal and informal spaces, see diversity in how families function and expand their universe of valuable experiences. Once a week we saw the children embark on this route towards welcoming spaces, sumptuous lunches provided by the host families and a chance to explore each other’s worlds more closely. For the families it revealed their child’s world in all its hues. It has been inclusion felt and experienced in an organic way, a vision that Snehadhara aspires for constantly. To carry forward this endeavour, every Thursday, children of each group visited one of their group-mates homes, met their friends and families, had lunch and returned to the centre. The children left the centre at 10.45 am and were back at the centre by 2.15 pm. Facilitators and support of the group concerned accompanied the groups.
The Home Visits in the first term allowed the children to be a part of each other’s home routines at lunch time once a week. They got to interact with the families of their friends. The families that hosted them got an opportunity to interact with the children and facilitators of the group that their child was a part of. Extending this as a natural progression in staying together we initiated the Overnighters at the centre in the second term. The overnighters allowed us to look at independence and adaptability in the children to a new routine.
For one group the overnighters also involved planning the dinner on that day for the groups that stayed at the centre. This was built into the plan for the day.
Our Parent Interactions
It has been our continued endeavor to build a strong, active community of carers for the children across all our engagements. Parents associated with Snehadhara have been a vital source of support – for the centre, students and very often for each other.
In continuing with our dialogue through our Parent Interactions- Kala Samvaad, this year we wished to create spaces where the parent group and the team working with the children met at least once a month. We hoped these interactions would continue to serve as a space that opened up creative, introspective and practical dialogues and allowed the parent community to reach out, share and access or provide help when required. Our vision was to identify, innovate and build together that which was most important for all of us to function as a sustainable collective.
The 4th Saturday of every month was calendarized for us to come together as a large group and each Saturday constituted a two- fold initiative. Firstly- working together as a group through creative expressions – where we knitted conversations through creativity to come together as an introspective, mindful, compassionate community. These sessions were facilitated by experts and in-house teams. Dialogue Circles, the second segment of the programme was a space for interaction with the parents, where we could facilitate dialogues around themes that were of importance to our families – these could be immediate and urgent concerns, sharing resources, as well as long term planning. We also created an open forum for the parents to meet the team regarding their child to help enhance our working relationships and allowed us to work in tandem between home and school.