All the services provided at Gharkul are completely free of cost. Our program is child-centric and holistic, specifically designed to cater to children with special needs from lower income groups.
The education that each child receives at Gharkul is based on an initial assessment. Children are taken to government hospitals for diagnoses and assessment. The teacher at Gharkul also makes focused observations for a period of 3 months to identify the interests, strengths and needs of the child. This is a prerequisite to creating a solid Educational Plan for each child and allocating classes. There are 4 classes that the students at Gharkul are divided into
- Primary: The focus here is early intervention and developing the child’s ability in the activities of daily living. Children are given therapeutic support to develop fine and gross motor skills. Many of the children in this level have severe to profound impairments.
- Secondary: Here the student develops more advance skills of daily living, cognitive, academic and social skills. Children in this class usually have impairments that are moderate or severe.
- Prevocational: Many of the children in this group have mild Autism. Children are prepared for vocational education. Here a link is made between the child’s capacity and the type of vocational education best suited for them. Children benefit from activities to enhance eye-hand coordination. Some of the children in this group are trained in academic skills and are enrolled into the National Institute of Open Schooling.
- Vocational: Children in this group are taught specific vocational skills. With the assistance of the teacher they make a wide variety of handmade products like paper bags, greeting cards, photo frames, diyas and other crafts. They are also taught basic computer skills, skills in operating machines, and skills of daily living like travelling and others that will prepare them for future employment.
Therapies and Activities
Along with Education therapies and activities are an important part of the Gharkul program. These have been incorporated to make the education experience holistic, relevant and enjoyable. They are as follows
- Physio Therapy: Children with impaired fine and gross motor development are provided regular physiotherapy. Physiotherapy is conducted in-house as well as in partnership with Nanavati Hospital.
- Singing: Singing helps children with special needs develop verbal skills and bond with other classmates. This activity also serves the purpose of recreation as it also calms children down and provides them with an enjoyable experience.
- Sports: In order to foster physical development and fitness and increase the child’s alertness the children at Gharkul are engaged in a variety of sports activities.
- Dance: The children with an interest and capacity for dance attend weekly dance sessions aimed at enhancing their motor skills, muscle control and self-confidence. Our students participate in a number of dance competitions.
- Recreation: Activities like monthly birthday celebrations, festival celebrations, and the annual picnic help enhance the child’s social skills and support a child’s social integration.
Health and Nutrition:
Often the health and nutritional needs of children from lower income groups are ignored. Addressing these needs is a preventive measure against future health complications. At Gharkul each child is provided with a nutritious meal as well as nutrition supplements like milk, fruits and egg. In addition children with medical needs are referred to Gharkul’s network of medical practitioners for free treatment.
The needs of children with special needs can sometimes be overwhelming for parents. Parents often feel helpless and undergo stress and anxiety. Gharkul offers each parent emotional support and guidance to enable them to manage their child’s symptoms and build their child’s strengths.
In order to ensure that special children from lower income groups access early intervention, Gharkul targets Balwadis and Anganwadis in select slum communities. Teachers are trained to identify children with special needs, specifically Autism, Down Syndrome, Development Delays, Cerebral Palsy, Learning Disabilities and Intellectual Developmental Disorder and make appropriate and timely referrals.