This Delhi-Based Initiative Is Helping Children With Special Needs With Sports And Empathy
Upon looking at the word ‘Disability’ we get the connotation of what an individual cannot do; something that is wrong with a person, hindering him from functioning a particular task like others can. In our society, persons with disabilities are often looked down upon. Disability often is viewed as a drawback, when compared to what is perceived as “normal”.
Umoya roughly translates to the spirit of positivity in Zulu. Umoya Sports believes that at the spiritual level everyone is the same, and it is trying to do exactly the same – building a culture of inclusion amidst the arena of sports. Umoya Sports is trying to take ‘play beyond barriers’, where physical disability will not be a hindrance for someone to not engage in sports.
Founded by Aditya Kv, this organisation is based out of Delhi and is working with two NGOs in Gurugram and in Delhi by providing better opportunities to children with special needs.
Aditya likes to call himself an enabler. A Teach For India alumnus, Aditya has also worked as an IT professional. During his stint with a professional sports management organisation, he realised that persons with disabilities are often not encouraged to take part in sports but on the other hand, sports is one activity that would help in bringing a positive change.
Sports acts as a positive enabler in most cases, for example, it helps in building bonds of friendship and teaches life skills like teamwork. He decided to take up sports as a mode of intervention and use it as a tool for development of these children. The aim here was to bring the joy of sports in the lives of children with special needs like down syndrome or even kids with autism. The vision of the initiative is to create an inclusive environment for sports where everyone can play an equal role.
One important mode of intervention is the innovative buddy system. Each child with a special need is assigned a buddy. A buddy, in this case, is someone without disabilities. They are paired to perform small sports drill. A drill can be anything ranging from dribbling a ball from point A to point B.
The buddy pairs perform like a team, coexisting in mutual harmony and helping each other complete a task. The buddy shoulders the responsibility of helping the kid with a special need to do certain parts of the activity that he cannot complete himself.
When The Logical Indian spoke to Aditya, he said, “These activities are performed are performed with small children, Thus, right from their children, the buddies grow up to be more socially aware and responsible adults. They are more tolerant and are supportive. These kids begin sharing a bond of friendship.”
At this juncture, he narrated the special bond of love between Jatin and Niraj. Jatin, a child with special needs was paired with Niraj. Jatin began to copy Niraj during the activity sessions. Whenever Jatin had a problem in performing a drill, Niraj made sure he supported his friend through the entire drill. Niraj and Jatin have become best buddies and one can actually sense Niraj harbouring compassion and empathy for Jatin. Niraj began seeing beyond disabilities. The story of Niraj and Jatin prove that such activities promote awareness and effectively help break barriers.
Such activities help in creating an environment of inclusion which is benefitting for everyone. It works on four main principles:
- Social skills
- Hone sport skills
- Create livelihood opportunities
The children with special needs mostly suffer from a lack of confidence, which improves when they perform these sports activities. Their motor skills get improved too. as games and drills keep them motivated and strive to achieve more. “As livelihood options are concerned, it is a quite far fetched option as these kids can pursue sports as their alternative career option as well, in their future,” said Aditya. The takeaway of these activities is that the kids respond really well to the activities than therapy.
When it comes to the context of the buddies, they grow up to be more sensitive human beings and more accommodative in nature. They learn life skills like teamwork and can also inculcate leadership qualities. “Parents of the children with special needs often tell me that these drills ensure holistic growth for these children,” said Aditya.
When asked about challenges faced in the entire buddy process, Aditya said, they haven’t faced any major challenge as of yet and both the buddies as well as the children with special needs respond really well to these activities. At times, if a buddy resents in being teamed up, a unique method of incentive based participation is chalked out. Buddies get to perform the drills more than once and they enjoy the procedure a lot.
- Umoya Sports has collaborated with Vishwas Vidyalaya to conduct the sports program and bring the joy of sports to ALL children. Vishwas Vidyalaya, shares the common vision to provide inclusive education to all. Aditya says that the school team has been extremely helpful in guiding him and supporting him in his journey.
- Aditya and his organisation have teamed up with the FIFA Under 17 to host the first ever Inclusive MXIM Football Festival at Vishwas Vidyalaya to build an ‘inclusive sports culture’
Aditya aims at creating equal opportunities for persons with disabilities so that sports can effectively play a part in their holistic development.
The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly applauds the efforts take up by Aditya and his team to create an inclusive sports environment. He is an inspiration for all of us.
Click here to know more about Umoya Sports
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