A play center
FOR CHALLENGED CHILDREN IN PONDICHERRY

A play centre is…

A protected space where children come and play freely. Play allows children to assert themselves and to grow up ; it promotes learning and self-confidence.

The Goal

The objective of the project is to promote the global development of children with disabilities and their rehabilitation in the society.

Beneficiaries
- 80 diseable children from Satya Special School:
- further ahead, a undred diseable children coming from Pondichery State

Background

At least 350 million people live in India with less than one dollar a day and this statement concerns a great majority of people with disabilities ; the poorest populations are particularly affected because they are not aware of the existing risks and unable to take the required precautions. 70% of identified situations result from intermarriage. 20% from mothers’ malnutrition during their pregnancy and 10% from lack of prenatal and postnatal care. The number of people suffering from physical, sensory or mental deficiencies is estimated at 50 million, which means 5% of the population. People with special needs are often ignored and they also have to face up to neglect, stigmatization, rejection or even violence and exclusion. If India benefits nowadays from an economical growth, this has however a very marginal impact on the inclusion of challenged people in society.

At last, families live in very difficult material conditions. Standard schools don’t accept children with disabilities and special schools are very expensive. On top of these difficulties, there are also cultural problems. In many areas it is believed that a child with special needs is the manifestation of a karmic cursing, or worse, the incarnation of a fault committed in the family. The parents of children with disabilities thus have strong guilt feelings and tend to neglect them, or even to hide them.

Under such circumstances challenged children are particularly affected by self-depreciation. They need to broaden their perception of limits beyond the ones imposed by their disability, to strengthen the ability and perception of their skills. Since these children have a lower control of their life, it is difficult for them to develop self-confidence. When a child plays and explores in an autonomous way, he/she has the opportunity not only to learn, to experiment his/her knowledge, but also to strengthen his/her self-confidence.

CDE’s role

Actions
• Opening of a playing centre to allow children with disabilities to blossom, to better grow up and to get prepared to their rehabilitation in society when becoming adults
• Training of the centre team on the fitting and animation of a playing centre, a course delivered by a specialist in the field of play and disability, author of the “Handiplay guide” and member of the National Training Centre for Play and Game trades (FM2J)
• Awareness approach to disability for families and communities
• Diagnosis at the outset and impact assessment of our actions

Partner

Started in 2003, the Satya Special School is a non-profit, voluntary organization aiming to help children in Pondicherry, South India, cope with physical and/or mental disabilities.

The Satya Special School set itself 3 goals :
• Eradicating the stigmatization linked with physical or mental deficiencies, through awareness actions, directed to families and local communities, concerning disabilities, in particular the risks of intermarriage
• Making children aware of their responsibilities so as to develop their confidence and autonomy
• Providing rehabilitation programs tailored to individual needs so as to support the child better. The Satya Special School contributes everyday to improving the quality of life of children and adults with disabilities by giving them free access to care, education and vocational training :
• Being both a specialized care centre and a school for children with special needs, it welcomes and supports freely these children coming from very disadvantaged and isolated backgrounds.
• It offers vocational trainings, tailored to individual needs, to its young and adult beneficiaries (embroidery, sewing, manufacturing of wooden objects, etc.), which allow them, not only to acquire skills and to receive a salary, but also to mingle with society while taking part in a vocational activity. Thus, they also contribute to the income-generating activities developed by the Satya Special School with a view to get funds for the centre, among other things.
• It has set up “units” in some remote villages in the state of Pondicherry, cut off from any kind of facilities and where the lack of sustainable employment involves a great poverty, in order to take care of the children who are unable to move and to raise the communities’ awareness. These centres are run by people coming from the relevant villages and a mobile unit visits them every weekend, along with special needs doctors.