The curriculum of our Monday to Friday program, 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
Structure Of The Day
Each year at Snehadhara opens itself to fresh perspectives. The year 2018-2019 witnesses a change in the structure of the day with renewed timings. The day begins at 8.30 am for the children followed by Circle Time where each group welcomes the day with music and songs. This is followed by breakfast and two morning sessions that include group sessions as well as one on one and ABT sessions. At lunch the children and adults eat together, children buddied with adults. Lunchtime and naptime lead to two afternoon sessions where on any typical day the children are a part of sessions in classrooms as well as outdoor sessions. Closure of the day is at 3.15 pm and by 3.30 pm the children bid goodbye to the centre.
The Obattoo Cafe under the Oota Thota programme continues to see our master chefs cook and serve a buffet of dishes on Tuesdays.
Besides the activities at the centre, some children would be going 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 are the Home Visits, under our Classroom without Walls endeavour, on Thursdays where they will visit 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:
Every year we shake up our bag of summer goodies and what emerges is an April full of exciting experiences and tremendous fun. We create new memories of what epitomises Summer Vacations, “Sun drenched days and starlit nights” as the song goes. It has often been about visiting friends and relatives and making new friends in new places. This year our Summer School 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.
There are regular sessions with ABT practitioners who work towards achieving therapeutic goals for the children across domains. The ABT sessions focus 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 explore, experiment and understand. We continue to explore the children’s response to directive and non-directive play settings and its impact on cognitive, social and emotional domains of learning.
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.
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 wish to create spaces where the parent group and the team working with the children meet at least once a month in a structured yet not so structured manner. We hope these interactions will continue to serve as a space that opens up creative, introspective and practical dialogues and allows the parent community to reach out, share and access or provide help when required. Our vision is to identify, innovate and build together that which is most important for all of us to function as a sustainable collective.
The 4th Saturday of every month has been calendarized for us to come together as a large group and each Saturday will constitute a two fold initiative. Firstly- working together as a group through creative expressions – where we knit conversations through creativity to come together as an introspective, mindful, compassionate community. These sessions will be facilitated by experts and in-house teams. Secondly, it will be an open forum to meet the team as in the last year, our meetings with parents have been a mutually beneficial process that helped us enhance our working relationships and allowed us to work in tandem between home and school.
We hope that these shared experiences will lend themselves to building a robust and reliable staff-parent community.
We open ourselves to learning beyond the bounds of the center
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 hosts the group of his/her child for about 2.5 hours approx. once in two months. They also get 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 see 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 reveals their child’s world in all its hues. It is inclusion felt and experienced in an organic way, a vision that Snehadhara aspires for constantly. We are also hoping that this will lead us towards fresh ideas for the overnighters that would start from the second quarter onwards.
To carry forward this endeavour, every Thursday, children of each group visit one of their group-mates homes, meet their friends and families, have lunch and return to the centre. The children leave the centre at 10.45 am and are back at the centre by 2.15 pm. Facilitators and support of the group concerned accompany the groups.