HELPING INCLUSION OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
It’s a beautiful co-incidence that just as I sat to write this piece, I bumped into a heart-touching video on the internet. So let me start with describing the video for you. It’s an annual day race at one of the schools. Children have lined up at the starting point, all set to put in their 100% into the race, parents cheering, friends hooting…and bang goes the gun to mark the start of the race. The children start racing towards the finishing line…each trying to outdo the other, everybody aiming for a podium finish…and just as one child takes the lead, and is almost at the finishing line, he trips and falls. I was expecting the 2nd child would now take the lead and win the race…but wait…what just happened? All the participants surround the child who had fallen. They help him get up…and all of them together, holding each other’s hands, cross the finishing line. Wow…isn’t it? But wait, the story is not over. In fact the story is not that all of them helped each other and crossed the finishing line together. The story is about the fact that all these children were children with special needs; and if these children can be so empathic and mature that it is never about coming first, it’s rather about finishing the race, why can’t the so called intelligent and sane population of the world follow the same?
Well may be not everybody, but the world surely has its own share of Samaritans who are trying to making a difference, who are trying to being about that change. And my guest for today, Ayukta Thakur, co-founder of Integreat Center – Dubai’s first Holistic Special Needs Center for Young Adults, in my opinion, is nothing short of a Samaritan. Ayukta along with her two friends started this center about 2 years ago, keeping the needs of special children in the age group of 16-25 years in their mind, and her only motive…is to enable these young adults with special needs to capitalize on their strengths and become active members of the workforce and society.
As an entrepreneur Ayukta has faced her own share of obstacles. Right from trying to gain the confidence of the parents and convince them to invest time and money into their children with special needs, to finding the right guidance, the right teachers, government support, research to employ the best possible teachings and practices, Ayukta had to run from pillar to post to give a structure to her passion. But as she says that passion can take you a long way and passion teaches you to push your limits every single day; it is this passion that has helped Ayukta not just fulfill her dream, but has given hope to so many parents and children towards an all-inclusive society, and where success stories are not restricted to academic excellence.
Integreat Center is without doubt a great step by Ayukta, but she can be successful in her mission, if and only if, we as a society become more aware; when we as a society make our places and events more accessible and when we as a society choose to focus on the strengths rather than the shortcomings. Almost like the end of the race of the video clip I mentioned earlier, all of us need to hold hands, and help each other and help ourselves, cross the finishing line together. Do you have anything to say to this? I look forward to you sharing your experiences with me…
Love and Health,