Special skills

Special skills

Since the last three weeks or so, about 30 pair of hands are keeping rather busy, making various things that will be put up for sale at the upcoming Funfair. Rug Mats, various spices, chutney masala, jeera powder, embroidered handkerchiefs, pot paintings, candles, garlands, paper bags, pre-cut vegetables and several other items feature in the list of things that are being produced by these hands. There’s nothing groovy about producing these items, you may think, until you learn that these hands belong to students of the St. John the Baptist school for children in need of special care.

These young boys and girls, aged between 18 and 25, are either autistic or mentally challenged and have little chances of finding employment. So they learn soft skills at the pre-vocational training course that the St John special school offers. At the school, they are engaged in creating things throughout the year. To ensure viability, the school helps them make things as per the demand of the season. For instance, they make til sweets during sankrant, candles around Christmas time, and kandeels and diyas around Diwali. They also make rakhees for Raksha Bandhan, friendship bands for friendship day and many such articles at different period of the year depending on its demand. The staff members of the special school are their sales representatives, who network with the teachers and students of their parent school and junior college to sell these items. Many teachers regularly order pre-cut vegetables from these children. The money earned from selling the produce is distributed among the students. "The children, who are paid a salary for their work, feel terrific when they receive their pay. It makes them feel worthy," says Marry Ann Scott, the head of the special school section of SJBHS, a woman totally dedicated to the cause of special children.
 
The St John special school, the first ever school for special children in the city, was established in November 1978, as part of SJBHS. More than 25 years later, the school now has over 100 students on roll and the staffs consist of six trained teachers, four craft teachers and one social worker, managing six classes and a pre-vocational group. The principal of SJBHS Rev. Fr. John Lopes and school manager Rev. Fr. John Rumao take an active interest in the running of the special school. In fact, the funfair mentioned above is being organised in aid of the night school (remedial school) for the intellectually poor and a special vocational school for the differently-abled that school plans to start soon.

The funfair is part of the centenary celebrations of St John the Baptist High School, and will be held on April 08, 09, and 10 between 6.30 and 10.30 pm. Like other centenary programmes, this one will also be inaugurated by an well-known ex-student of the 100-year school. The funfair will feature will amusement parks, contests, stage shows, music, DJ nights and stalls for food, games and other merchandise. Any guesses, which will be the most special stall at the funfair?

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