Special children differ socially, mentally and physically from other children. They require special attention and can’t be expected to sit in meditation, art, dance workshops, and sports sessions without prior preparation. They are enthusiastic but we have to break the information down into smaller units to engage them,” says Sangeeta Jain, principal of SOREM (Society for Rehabilitation of Mentally Challenged), Chandigarh. So, when RC Chandigarh Midtown, RID 3080, hosted a special RYLA called Vishesh (special in Hindi) to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, SOREM ensured “we had trained faculty to prepare the children for a fun-filled day.”
This year, about 100 ‘special delegates’ between ages 15 and 35 registered for the event, which was held at SOREM. “The atmosphere was filled with excitement and fun, as children with visual, hearing, and speech impairments, as well as those with mental and physical challenges, connected with each other enthusiastically,” says club president Sanjay Kalra. “We were worried if we could keep the children occupied with the activities, but they surprised us with their determination and confidence to keep going,” he adds.
Kalra says that the event focused on the holistic growth of children and adults with special needs and enhanced their personal and leadership qualities through fun activities. “These children can do wonders if supported by the right people.” Awards and certificates were given to the best performers while all children were given RYLA certificates.
Through RYLA Vishesh, says Kalra, “our club had the unique opportunity to demonstrate our concern for special children. The event helped to showcase the abilities of those with disabilities and the transformative power of empathy, inclusivity, and compassion.”
One of the sessions that was enjoyed thoroughly by all the participants was the dance workshop. “It was heartwarming to watch these children dance joyously without any inhibition,” smiles the club president. The event was inaugurated by Deepak Dhiman, channel head and editor of Zee News. Radio Punjab was the official radio partner.
The club also organised a ‘Rotary Walk with a Difference’ to commemorate the success of Project Sahyog, which provided artificial limbs to amputees.