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Development Centres

Children with Disabilities from rural poor communities are particularly disadvantaged,treated with fear and suspicion by people, even by their own families at times. Specialised care and happychildhoods are hard to come by in circumstances already stretched by the struggles of daily life survival.

RDT started organising group of PWDs in villages in 1993. As Vikalangula Sanghams (PWD collectives) started identifying the various issues that confront them, they found that while children with physical challenges could enrol in existing educational institutions, children with other disabilities needed special schools. Between 1996 and 2002, RDT started schools for the intellectually disabled (ID), visually impaired, hearing and speech impaired and those with Cerebral Palsy (CP). It initiated Specialised Education programmes in 1990 and later on, added Physical Education to the curriculum. Eventually, technical and vocational training programmes for these children began in 2013.

These schools focussed more on daily living skills, simple communication skills and social (relationship & behavioural) skills first;scholastics skills followed to the extent to which the child could manage them. It takes almost 8 years for a child to go through this process and by then, he or she is already a teenager. Sooner or later, the grown up child has to return to his or her village and live with minimum support from his/her parents.

“I never thought that the life of my daughter having intellectual disability, would take such a turn. She's traveling to America thanks to RDT's facilities”
B.Veera Reddy
Parent of an Special Olympics team athlete

So suitable skills such as reading training, personal finances training, local language training, basic math, hand-craftsmanship, cooking, gardening, and carpentry are taught, aside from sports and physical activity training implemented by specially trained Physical Education teachers.

In January 2010, ‘Special Olympics Bharat’ organised its national athletics meet at Ananthapuram. Some children from RDT’s special schools participated casually, representing Andhra Pradesh, without much training and managed to win a few medals. It was then, that RDT decided to actively involve itself and support a specially tailored sports education for Children with Disabilities and started a regular coaching centre at Bathalapalli.

Qualified expert coaches visited the centre from Spain and India. Aside from sports and athletics coaching, regular heath check-ups were conducted to ensure that the children’s physical condition kept pace with their training. Adequate rest and good nutrition were provided to ensure that students kept their strength up. A dedicated team of 4-6 coaches and 2-3 teachers worked exclusively for Special Olympics sports coaching.

RDT’s ASV runs the Special Olympics programme across the district of Ananthapuram through 18 Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) centres. Programmes are implemented via the A.S.A and grassroots centres. There are 17 grassroots centres, and a total of 1,214 youth (567 girls and 647 boys) undertake some or the other physical activity at the school level.

Infrastructure at the ASV includes an indoor hall, a well-furnished gymnasium, table-tennis tables, a badminton court, outdoor basketball and volleyball courts with two separate changing rooms, an office space and storage facility. A full nutrition programme, which includes all three daily meals and snacks, suitable dormitory accommodation and education support with access to special schools including basic life skills, technical and vocational training is provided to the students. The programme also provides bicycles and roller skates to each athlete for training and commuting purposes.

Aside from regular activities, periodic visits are held by the RDT Special Olympic (SO) coaches to assess and guide the children and their PE teachers on their development. Talented youngsters are absorbed into the SO programme. All the SO programme athletes participate in State and National level competitions and ASV was the host for Andhra Pradesh’s first Special Olympics Bharat National Athletics Championship in 2010.

HIGHLIGHTS
 
STAFF SPEAK
 

“The proportion of athletes we select from the RDT Special Olympics programme, to represent India in our various competitive international events is a true measure of the quality of the training provided by RDT’s coaches. These children display a level of commitment and enthusiasm that comes not just from their training, but also from the holistic development of their personalities. They are the pride of our National Special Olympics Team”

Enric Romaguera,
Coordinator – RDT Special Olympics Programme

SUCCESS STORY
 

Belonging to a small village called Muduguppa in Ananthapuram, Vani was always inclined towards sports. But due to her intellectual disability, she was not usually allowed to play outside her house with others of her age. Her parents, though, recognising Vani’s love for sports, brought her to RDT’s Bathalapalli campus in 2013 and she was accepted in the Special Olympics Programme. At the centre, Vani’s breakfast is followed by her academics as well as vocational training, which lasts until lunch. The students, including Vani, concentrate on one activity per day such as agriculture, cooking, jute manufacturing and academics (English, Math, Telugu and other subjects). Vani is quite excited about her academics and enjoys being in the company of her books. She practices badminton and volleyball at the centre and having attained a high proficiency in volleyball, was chosen to be a part of the Indian contingent for the Special Olympics Volleyball team at the Los Angeles World Games in 2015. She was voted as one of the best players of her team and her splendid performance on the court won her many hearts. Her parents, who are both farmers, were tearful with joy as she returned back from Los Angeles. Vani’s success is a testament to what the faith and support of parents, dedicated training, and expert coaching can achieve, and her example is especially heartening for the parents of other Children with Disabilities.

“Vani is a multi-talented girl, very skilful in Volleyball and a team player, always supporting her colleagues.”

Mr. Enric Ronamgeuro,
Head Coach for the Special Olympics program at RDT

PARADIGM SHIFT
 

Expert guidance and quality training are the foundations of any successful athlete. RDT’s sports initiatives have given the children of Ananthapuram, an opportunity of getting trained by the best national and international sports coaches; something, which even their urban counterparts may not have.

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