National Project :
National Pilot Project, a national program aimed to integrate the mentally challenged with family and community, marked an important milestone for the mentally challenged and their families all over India. National Pilot Project was inaugurated by Prime Minister of India Shri. A. B. Vajpayee on 29th June 1998. These programs conceptualized and carried out by Central Institute on Mental Retardation have reached 40,000 families in 23 states of India. Central Institute on Mental Retardation has mobilized volunteers from all over India, trained them in Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati. With the active participation of volunteers, mentally challenged children were identified and trained to integrate with the mainstream. Shape-based teaching material and a handbook “Home a School” were the tools for this training program. As a follow-up of the National Project, 30 centres with a minimum of 10 children were opened in Delhi. In Kerala also, more than 79 centres were opened in 84 panchayats of Thiruvananthapuram district. The Centre has a wide range of musical instruments, ample learning space, and a well-equipped auditorium. Professional music teachers put in their hearts and souls into developing hidden batches of mentally challenged children and their mothers from each state of our country have the facility to spend a week in Freedom Centre for learning new ideas and exploring new possibilities in various forms of arts like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Ballet, Folk dance, Cinematic dance and practice different musical instruments like Veena, Tanpura, Violin, Guitar, percussion instruments and jazz.
The idea was to help mothers participate in artistic activities along with their children. It was envisaged that children, on seeing the involvement of mothers, would follow their example. In Delhi and Kerala, the training in arts for mothers and their children were found to be very successful. This paved the way to a program, in which mothers and their children participated in a painting competition. These mothers were expected to observe and understand the development that the ‘Freedom Centre’ has made for the mentally challenged persons and become positively charged and help in teaching their children their own rural arts and crafts.
They also will take back new ideas and artistic skills with which they will teach other mothers in their area/locality. The continuous interaction like this will open up new possibilities which will become a trend that can bring about a qualitative change in the life of mentally challenged children all over India. The norms were simple, and the idea was effective participation, rather than winning prizes. The centre – open to children from all parts of the globe – offers long term training in various performing arts in Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram. Selected paintings of mothers and children were exhibited on 8th December 2011, World Disability Day. This program has conclusively proved that, given a chance, mentally challenged children and their families can successfully take part in artistic activities. This is a step which will lead to the social rehabilitation of the mentally challenged. By getting integrated into the society – from which they have kept away, and also which kept them away – they have attained democratic rights. The aim would also be that it would create employment opportunities for many of them. This fact has been proved by artists of CIMR who get regular invitations for performances. This certainly will help them stand on their own feet.
State Project :
CIMR Education Curriculum Pilot Project
The pilot project launched in 30 panchayats of Trivandrum district by CIMR with the full support and encouragement of Department of Social Justice of the Government of Kerala is a small beginning of a large movement that can change the destiny of the mentally challenged children in our country.
30 panchayats from 11 blocks of Trivandrum district are chosen and 30 chosen teachers from the panchayats are given training in the 3cs concept. Then each teacher has to find out at least 7 students from their panchayats and take classes for 120 days. The selected children are between the age group of 3 to 15 years. They are given training in CIMR Institute.
The classes were on the following learning and teaching educational steps.
1. Knowing shapes
2. Making shapes
3. Selecting shapes
4. Combining shapes
5. Home a school
6. Study materials according to 3cs concept
7. Environmental studies
So many positive results were seen in children trained under this project. CIMR is looking forward to doing more projects like this for the well-being of the mentally challenged children.
Community Rehabilitation Project – “Near to Home Centres”
During 1997 – 98, CIMR in association with Thiruvananthapuram District Panchayat carried out Local Body level programme known as “Community Rehabilitation Programme” covering all the 84 Grama Panchayats of the District. As part of this Project, from each Panchayat a group of 8 persons – 3 mentally challenged persons above 17 years together with their mothers or primary caretakers, 1 Volunteer and 1 Teacher from within the respective Panchayat, were identified and imparted training for 5 days. They were given 2 day training at CIMR and 3 day training at Nirmithi Kendras. In Nirmithi Kendras, they were given skill training for making low cost building materials. The objective of this programme is to establish a “Near to Home Centre” at each Local Body so as to give them support for initiating livelihood activities. After the training, 78 such “Near to Home Centres” had been established.
Special Training to Anganwadi Teachers
Another major project undertaken by the Institute is the special training to Anganwadi teachers of the entire Thiruvananthapuram District (covering 75 Grama Panchayaths, 3 Municipalities and 1 Corporation) with the support of the Department of Social Justice, Government of Kerala. This program was carried out during 2015 – 16. It was a comprehensive program on mental retardation for 10 days. 3000 Anganwadi teachers underwent training in 32 batches. The objective of the program was to improve the skills of Anganwadi teachers in identifying the mentally retarded children in their neighbourhood and to integrate with the normal children. As an outcome of the training, the Anganwadi teachers identified 8539 mentally retarded, out of which 1206 are in the age groups of 0-6 years. The Institute imparted special training to the mothers of all these 1206 children to create awareness on mental retardation and the need for integrating the mentally retarded to the family and community.