Special Sports

Special Sports

School Sports Day is always fun. It’s nice to see children participating in the various sporting competitions, some winning and thrilled about it, others losing and feeling dejected and some others nonchalant about whether they’ve won or lost. And when the children competing are special, the sporting event takes on a completely different meaning as was demonstrated last week at the second Jidd School annual sports day.

On Saturday 17 January, 2004, about 50 students of Jidd School participated in the various sporting contests organised in the Dadoji Kondeo Stadium. The day began with the customary March past and salutation offered to the Chief Guest, Vijay Padwal, who is the Chairman of the Sports and Cultural Committee of the TMC. Padwal formally threw open the event, distributed sweets to the children while wishing them good luck.

There were as many as 15 different types of competitions, some normal and others that were specifically designed for the special children. For instance, children suffering with restricted mobility could participate in the straw game – entangling as many drinking straws in their hair as possible with the given time. Then there was block building – making tall structures using brick-like blocks, throwing balls in the basket and beading of laces. All these games, besides being exciting, also taught children important things such as hand coordination and various other movements.

"As teachers, we learnt a lot too, by observing these children compete, even when many of them were unable to do so. We laughed a lot. Yet, more than once, I found my eyes moist with tears of joy," said Shyama Bhonsle, Principal of Jidd School, who wanted to provide as normal an experience to her students as possible.

Vaishali Shirke, a special educator at the Jidd School, related an incident about how a nine-year old girl called Mosin Mulani, who is not only mentally retarded but also suffers from cerebral palsy, overcame her nervousness. She said, "As teachers along with her mother cheered her, the girl began to gain confidence and managed to put nine blocks one upon the other in less than a minute. Then they fell and she rebuilt the structure. They blocks kept falling and she kept re-building. The expression on her face was that of delightful happiness. And that in turn brought us joy."

Normal sporting competitions such as sack race, potato race, spoon and lemon, shot put and the three-legged race were also organised. Then there was running race for mothers and one for fathers. Another race was for wheel chaired children who were pushed by their parents. Parents truly enjoyed this one. A girl called Manali was angry with her father who, some reason got stuck and therefore she missed the first spot and stood second in the wheel chair race. Then there was an MR Child who participated and won so many contests that he did not remember how many he had won – when asked, he said he’ll ask his mother. 11-year-old Shoaib Khan 11, with Down’s syndrome, always plays well at school but in the presence of his father, he did even participate in any of the competitions.

Archana Shete, another special educator at Jidd, recounted two interesting incidents. One, when in the sack race, two winning pairs – but first one did not touch the ribbon, so the second pair was declared winner. Then there was Milind Surve who did not know when to stop in a sprint, so he kept running even after crossing the finish line – right up to the end of the stadium!

The atmosphere of the day was relaxed. There were contests for staff and a tug of war between parents and teachers too – the teachers won, because they got the support, and strength of the children. The day was filled with lots of exciting and funny incidents and laughter could be heard all around. Teachers, parents and children were all happy. And why not – after all, winning or losing was hardly a consideration. That the special children participated and tried was in itself cause for celebration.

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