Thirty-one mentally challenged children rescued from shelter homes in Thane,Panvel and Mankhurd will start going to school in June under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
They have been selected from a group of 93 58 from a Mankhurd shelter and 35 rescued from Thane and Panvel nearly two years ago assessed under Chunauti,a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) project.
All the children are below 18. The 31 include 15 boys and 16 girls. They will study in a school at the Mankhurd shelter. We will also start a resource centre there. We have hired special educators who will work with regular teachers at the school, said Asha Bajpai of TISS.
Bombay High Court had set up a five-member committee headed by Bajpai in October 2010 to coordinate functioning of orphanages for the mentally challenged in the state following reports of death of children at a Thane home.
The effort is to create a model of intervention for children who are not only mentally challenged but also abused,exploited and neglected. Under the project,93 children with immediate needs were technically assessed.
While 49 benefited from individual counselling,74 children and eight adults received group counselling,80 children life-skills training and 30 dance therapy.
The children are being taught how to make friends,ways to feel safe,how to get over anger and ways to relax. While some children are yet to overcome the trauma of abuse,the committee has identified 31 children who can start schooling this academic year.
Counselling,life-skills training (communication,personal hygiene,etc),dance therapy are ongoing aspects of the project. Gardening sessions have also being started for interested children. The children have shown improvements such as better exposure of emotions,increase in vocabulary,increased ability to make decisions,increased sense of security leading to reduced self-mutilation,hyperactivity,violence and assertiveness, said Bajpai.