Recently, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai witnessed a unique sporting event, especially held for children on the autism spectrum. Aimed at providing a platform that allowed children with special needs to have a fun field day, the sports fest was organized by Sangamitra Foundation. It is a voluntary organization started by mothers of special needs children, Annapoorni Ramakrishnan, Jisha Rajesh, Devaki Balaji, Grace Santosh, and a sports coach, Satish Kumar.
The preparations for the event were underway for more than a month. From inviting registrations from local special education schools to reaching out to sponsors and finding a suitable venue, all the founding members handled everything by themselves.
Speaking of the overwhelming response that the event garnered, Grace Santosh told the Hindu, “We received more than 400 registrations but due to the current restrictions called due to the increase in COVID cases, we stopped with 250.” They plan to organize many more such events in the future.
The mothers also explained how the lockdown situation across the country has been especially difficult for children on the autism spectrum confined at home. It also led to an increase in erratic behavior – this event was a way to help them let off some steam. Careful deliberations were held to make the event special children-friendly. The children participated in several fun events like relay race, shot put, 100 meters running, bocha ball among others.
This humble beginning has filled the team with vigor to work towards their dream of helping children with special needs in every way they can. “The larger goal of the Foundation is to establish some kind of community exclusively for children with special needs that will take care of them and where they can live with each other’s support,” Jisha said.
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