Sushant Padlekar, 23, went to school early on Tuesday to practise for the upcoming dahi handi celebrations. The Class 10 student, who is hearing-impaired, was among 40 such students taking instructions in sign language to form the human pyramid at the Rotary Sanskardham Academy, Goregaon.
With just two days to go for Janmashtami, several special schools in the city are encouraging differently-abled students to participate in the festival. About 40 hearing-impaired students and 12 autistic students from the special school in Goregaon will break dahi handis in the school ground on Thursday.
“We involve our students in all festivals,” said principal Lata Nayak. While the autistic students will make two tiers, the hearing-impaired group will make three.
At Able Disable All People Together (ADAPT) inclusive school at Bandra, students with disabilities such as Down’s Syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) came together to practice on Tuesday, and were helped by volunteers and teachers to reach up to the handi.
While inclusion was one reason for encouraging differently-abled students to participate, schools said that such events also helped build their confidence. “By being a part of the celebrations, they feel good about the fact that even they can achieve what others can,” said Amena Latif, deputy director of school services, ADAPT.
Schools are putting in extra effort to train the students and prepare them physically and mentally for the task. “We use skits and stories to teach them what the festival is about. The physical instructors have to put in extra effort to train them,” added Latif.
“Disabilities do not stop them from having fun and they enjoy teamwork,” said Sitaram Chavan, the physical education instructor at Rotary Sanskardham Academy. “We have to discipline them to follow instructions to ensure they complete the task safely. The autistic students particularly need a lot of encouragement, since they tend to lose focus easily,” he said.