Making the city proud, three special children from Pingalwara (Amritsar) qualified for the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017, to be held in Austria.
The trio qualified in two events, floor ball and floor hockey. While Suraj qualified for floor ball, Raju Rajinder (20) and Poonam will represent the country in floor hockey. Out of the three, Poonam is the only girl from Punjab who has qualified for the prestigious event.
It has been more than a decade now that Poonam, 23, has been a part of the Pingalwara family and she has been supported and backed for her love for sports by Bibi Inderjit Kaur, president, All India Pingalwara Society. Earlier, she was at Sangrur branch but was brought to Manawala for training.
The children have been trained by Anita Batra and Padmini Srivastva. “It is a proud moment for us as these kids are being trained for about 10 years now. They have worked really hard to get to this level. These three have qualified on a certain criteria in which their IQ level was checked and it had to be above 60-65. Then their fitness was supervised and they cleared all the criteria,” said Padmini, who is a special educator at Pingalwara.
She added, “Initially as educators, we observed them for months. We followed their social skills, IQ level and then put them in sports events and check their capability for each sport.”
Notably, Anita and Padmini too had to undergo training by trained professional coaches to be able to train these special children.
“To tackle a normal child and a special child is altogether different. One needs a lot of patience and needs to be their educator to understand their psychology,” said the trainers.
Raju was only three-year-old when his mother brought him and his siblings to the Pingalwara as they all suffered from intellectual disability. He has qualified as the goal keeper for floor hockey.
However, Suraj was intelligent enough to explain how the national camps have brought a change in their life. He said, “Coaches teach us discipline which is the foremost in the camps. We are going for another camp at Solan from March 7 till 12 after which we will fly to Austria.”