Spring Daleans step into the shoes of special children to bat for inclusive education
A special spirit has engulfed the premises of Spring Dale Senior School these days, which is all about caring for and including the Special Students into the main stream of education to equip them adequately to carve a niche for themselves in the society. And it does not end with the conclusion of the annual celebration of World Disability Day.
Consequently, the students of the school are walking around the premises blindfolded, gagged, their legs tied and arms bandaged and with their friends acting as helpers and guides to try and feel what their friends with distinctive needs experience on being deprived of physical, intellectual and material assets available to their other schoolmates.
At least 30 students of the school have volunteered to help their special colleagues in the ensuing session. Sounds quite like the story of ‘The School for Sympathy’ a chapter in an English textbook prescribed by the CBSE for Class VI. The curriculum in this imaginary school requires normal students to observe ‘Lame Day’, ‘Blind Day, ‘Deaf Day’ and ‘Dumb Day’ each week aided by a guide to help them to sensitize them towards the plight of children affected by these disabilities.
According to Ms Beam, the headmistress of the imaginary school, “The real aim of this school is not to teach thought but thoughtfulness — humanity, kindness and citizenship,” a sentiment echoed by Spring Dales as well.
On Thursday morning, a young Spring Dalean walked into the school grounds with his eyes blindfolded, gingerly feeling his way to get around the premises and back to his classroom. Another schoolmate of his tried to walk or hop by tying both his legs, and when he stumbled, he was supported by a friend accompanying him.
Still another child had her arm bandaged and attempted her normal school work using only one arm. Activities such as these have been taking place for the past almost one week in the run-up-to the World Disability Day celebrations and are intended to sensitize the students towards the issues affecting their special colleagues by making them walk in their footsteps.
Titled ‘Walking in their footsteps’, the week-long activity, based on CBSE’s theme ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities’, witnessed the wholehearted participation of students from grades III to XI in activities including essay writing on the topic ‘Provision for disabled people in India’ and a debate.
Giving details, Mr Rajiv Kumar Sharma, Principal, Spring Dale Senior School, said that besides these activities, special assemblies were organized for the students of these classes. “The special students shared the stage with their hearty counterparts not just to sensitize their colleagues about their challenges, but also to showcase their unique abilities,” he said.
He maintained that this was a part of the inclusive education endeavour of the school, which aims at empowering students irrespective of their gender, background, strengths and weaknesses, by providing them with the best of education. “As there is very little awareness about children with various challenges, there is need for more knowledge and training in educational institutions particularly schools so that all kinds of students can be supported and included in the mainstream education,” Mr Sharma said.
Stating that special students were as important to the institution as the other students, Dr Kirat Sandhu Cheema, Director, Spring Dale Senior School, and Mr Sahiljit Singh Sandhu, and Managing Trustee, Spring Dale Educational Society, said that the school was doing its best to impart the best of education to all its students.
“At Spring Dales we take every possible measure to ensure that our special students are not just comfortable and happy, but that they also have access to all the facilities that are available to other students. We reiterate our commitment to be constantly at work as far as upgrading our infrastructure is concerned,” they said.
Spring Dale Senior School