While 11-year-old Arun Shankar spoke about his family members, eight-year-old Gayatri Devi, who has a speech problem, described her colourful wooden dolls that her father got her from Thanjavur. All this thanks to the Rotarians of RC Madras T Nagar, D 3232, who have been putting a smile on the faces of underprivileged and special children by treating them to a daylong carnival named Rota Talent Contest. In its silver jubilee year this project hosted over 2,000 children from 57 schools.
“They need emotional support and guidance to hone their talent and Rota Talent gives these kids a good platform,” says Meenakshi Perikaruppan, spouse of A Perikaruppan, President of the club. At the Rota Talent Show children showcase their talent on stage. “Some forgot their dance steps, others the lines in their speech. But they didn’t stop. Some of the performances left us in tears,” she adds.
The event was inaugurated by DG R Srinivasan and the State Commissioner for Differently- abled V Arun Roy. Each competition was divided into categories (mentally challenged, hearing impaired and regular) and the participant was given a time slot to perform. A painting competition was conducted across all categories simultaneously by the Inner Wheel Club. The winners were given trophies and cash prizes, two children from each school received the Best Talent Award. Gifts and trophies were also distributed.
Apart from all meals being complimentary, popcorn, cotton candy and few other snacks were given to children as they indulged in getting a temporary tattoo, face painting or mehndi. As it involves special children “this is a very satisfying project. These children never get the exposure they deserve. There is so much hidden inside them and so much they want to show the world,” says Perikaruppan. All the children returned home with a hobby kit containing books, glitter pens and Camlin crayons and story books sponsored by Pratham Books. The caretakers and school representatives were given a gift too.
With a few games and jolly rides including a cartoon character parade, a jumping castle and live food counters, it was “very entertaining and well organised,” said Shanthi, a teacher from Bala Mandir Trust. The stalls section had toys for special children and a motorised wheelchair stall attracted many enquiries. In association with V-Shesh, an impact enterprise that provides jobs to the differently-abled, a job fair was conducted at the venue for students with special needs above the age of 18 years, said Meenakshi.
“We have to thank the Rotarians and all the volunteers. But, most of all the kids who made our day extremely special,” said Perikaruppan.