WHAT IS PLAY?
There is extensive research highlighting the importance of play in a child’s development. The researchers have found that PLAY is a child’s primary occupation that encompasses ¾ of the child’s life and has a long lasting impact on the child’s future development and aspirations. According to an early pioneer in the field of child development, Dr. Mary D. Sheridan (1899-1978) “Play is the eager engagement in a pleasurable physical or mental effort to obtain emotional satisfaction”.
Play is a spontaneous, voluntary, pleasurable and flexible activity done for its own sake. It is characterized by means rather than ends (the process is more important than any end point or goal) and also flexibility (objects are put in new combinations or roles are acted out in new ways - e.g. a pencil becomes a phone and a toy train) and positive affect (children often smile, laugh, and say they enjoy it).
These characteristics of play is the contrast between play and work.
As the famous writer Mark Twain writes in his book ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’, “work is whatever a body is obliged to do and that play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do”.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR CHILDREN TO PLAY?
1)Play is the tool through which a child prepares himself/herself for his future adult role and responsibilities.
2)Play makes children consciously aware of the meaning and values of rules, orders and structures needed for the social aspects of life.
3)Play provides an opportunity and the space for development of self-expression and independence in children thereby creating a stimulating and enriching environment conducive to holistic child development.
HOW IS PLAYPAL PROGRAM HELPING SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN?
It is important for children with Special Needs to have opportunities to engage in play to stimulate and foster learning and also as an adjunct to therapies. Having said that, the reality is environmental constraints, such as lack of play areas and shortage of para-professionals who have an aptitude, energy and the zeal to engage children in a playful and joyous manner are some of the biggest challenges.
The ‘PlayPal Training Program’ is looking at bridging this gap by creating a trained cadre of professionals who will learn to recognizes developmental challenges of children with special needs and work with them in a fun and motivating manner to facilitate motor development and sports learning.
WHAT IS THE FINANCIAL BENEFIT FOR THOSE GETTING TRAINED?
In Mumbai alone, there are thousands of families of children with special needs who are willing to hire para-professionals to become the child’s buddy to help the child get opportunities for peer interaction and inclusion in society.
The PlayPal training program is for any person with an interest in sports, yoga or dance with the right kind of attitude and a liking for being with children. This training would be a good vocational opportunity for such people to make a decent living by making a career out of a skill or a hobby that that they are passionate about. At present youths with very basic or no training earn anything between 200-500 Rs. per session per child.
CAN A SPECIAL NEEDS ADULT HIMSELF/HERSELF GET TRAINED IN THIS PROGRAM?
Main objective of the PlayPal program is to create a cadre of professionals who will support and reach out to families of children with special needs. At least a basic level of intellectual, social and communication skills are required over and above the right kind of empathy and attitude. Anyone, parent, teacher or an adult with special needs fulfilling these requirements can enroll for this training program.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO TELL SPECIAL NEEDS PARENTS?
This is a project undertaken by Setco Foundation. The training team comprises of highly qualified and experienced Occupational and Physical Therapists. The program aims to create a cadre of professionals and build capacity in the existing resource pool of sports coaches. It is therefore important that the parents take an initiative to share information about this program with the persons who their child is receiving support from so that more and more children get the best care.
CONTACT SETCO FOUNDATION FOR PLAYPAL TRAINING PROGRAM
SETCO Foundation Office
c/o SETCO Automotive Limited, 2/A Ground Floor, Film Center Building,
68, Tardeo Road, Tardeo, Mumbai - 400 034
T: +91 22 407 55578