Visually impaired kids win hearts

Visually impaired kids win hearts

The Republic Day march at Manekshaw Parade Grounds is a matter of pride for many participants.  For the visually challenged students of Samarthanam Trust and Sri Ramana Maharshi Academy, it is a platform to make a statement.

Ramana Maharshi Academy had bagged the first place in last year’s Republic Day parade. On Thursday, they held their head high even as Samarthanam Trust won the first prize in the category of visually challenged schools.

When DH met them at the ground on Tuesday, 35 students from each of the schools were busy marching. They split into groups of 15 and went in a single file as their teachers tried to fine-tune their discipline. With three students in a row holding on to a cane, they walked with pride without a hint of unease.

Devaraj, who is part of the management at Samarthanam Trust, said their students have taken part in the march past for the last 20 years. “We respect our students for their extraordinary spirit and hard work. Their performance help us not to lose hope during challenging times,” he said.

T V Srinivasan, who founded the Academy in 1969, said the school has been recognised at Republic Day and Independence Day parades for years. “It is a matter of pride now. But we had to wait from 1979 to 1981 to get permit to participate in the event. Though the authorities wanted to include us, they had to make sure that we don’t make mistake at high-key event. That took three years,” he said.

“I suggested the physical education teacher back in 1971 to include marching. We do not consider visual impairment as a hurdle to their inclusiveness,” he said.

P Mohan, the physical education teacher at the Ramana Maharshi Academy, said that from 1981 to 2017, the school has participated in more than 52 parades and has won more than 47 prizes. Both the founder and students give more importance to participation.

“More than prizes, we got a chance to be there. It has been a chance to showcase our skills and represent our school,” Praveen Kumar, a Class 10 student who led the team as platoon commander, he said. “I will pass out of school and won’t be able to be a part of the team again. But this experience has given me confidence and a feeling that I am not less than anybody,” he added.
DH News Service

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