WHAT IS PLAYPAL?
PlayPal is a hands-on experienced based training program to give sports enthusiasts, coaches, and movement specialists like dancers and yoga teachers the practical skills and knowledge to work with children with special needs and learning challenges.
WHAT DO WE DO?
We build training programs to help individuals and teachers with no prior formal training in special needs, to develop their capacity and skills as para-professionals in movement-based activity. The training should give these individuals the ability and confidence to create more inclusive programs for sports and other activities. The training programs are not meant to replace professionals and therapists. We hope by that building capacity of non-professionals, PlayPal can enhance the outreach and impact for children and teens who struggle with developmental delays, disorders and disabilities by creating broader and richer access to mainstream activities like sports, dance and other such physical activities.
HOW DID WE START?
We started with a conversation over coffee. A little background...
Joyful, play-based physical movement is very important for the overall development, and health of all children. However it is even more critical for children with delays and disabilities, because it fosters development in multiple ways. As they move, learn to dance, kick a ball and so on, there is massive growth going on in the brain-body complex in exponential ways. Unfortunately most teachers have the attitude of focussing only on talent, rather than teaching for the participation and joy.
Additionally, a joyful participation means that a child will be motivated to make it a life-long habit and practise to take care of their own physical health.
It was extremely sad and frustrating to see that the children who most need to participate in physical activity like dance, sports, martial arts and so on, are usually excluded or left out because the teachers and trainers don’t have the skills, patience or experience to work with them, and because they don’t know how to facilitate a more inclusive environment. We realised from Anjali Joshi's prior experiences, and the work she had done with our community workers, that imparting these skills to non-professionals was very doable. With some training, proper guidance, a good attitude, a high degree of sensitivity and a lot of enthusiasm, it is very possible to engage and children with special needs, and create a nurturing and fostering environment that facilitates their development. One does not need to become a a therapist or a special educator to be able to bring a richness of activity into the children’s lives. By participating in more such activities, children have a chance to further develop their capability outside therapeutic intervention, and build their own ability to integrate into society.
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OUR ORGANIZATION
These are our values:
- We are extremely committed to ensuring that our training not only provides the right skills and knowledge frameworks, but also develops people who have ethics, integrity, are committed and enthusiastic in working with their students. We are very aware of the high sensitivity of this work-space, and it is crucial that our PlayPal graduates work with full engagement of the head and heart.
- We will not compromise on the integrity of our work
- We are willing to innovate and be creative. However, we will always subject our programs to proper process of monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that we are working with evidence of what works and what doesn’t.
- We believe that if we can’t teach special children, its because we don’t know how to teach. Not because they don’t know how to learn.
- The child’s interest is ALWAYS number one, always.
WHAT INSPIRES US TO DO THE WORK WE DO?
The joy and smiles on the faces of the children, when they can participate, feel empowered, and know that they can play, or dance, or sing, or move. The smile and tears of the families, when they see their children’s joy at taking even one step, or having one conversation, or playing catch with other kids for the first time, when they have a friend at school.
WHAT ARE OUR CHALLENGES AS AN ORGANIZATION?
The same as all start-ups. We know that what we are trying to do is fantastic, but others need to know about us, to step-up halfway, and be willing to take a risk by letting us work with their teams. Its a training program that requires a high-degree of commitment, and it is expected that potential trainees may feel skeptical about investing their time and money into something that has not been around for a while. So getting the word out is still not so easy.
PLAYPAL TRAINING PROGRAM IN A NUTSHELL
1) WHO CAN APPLY?
WHAT DO WE WANT TO TELL THE PARENTS OF THE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN?
Encourage your kids to play, to participate and do whatever you can to make sure they are included. Don’t let anyone else tell you that your child can’t play or can’t learn. Programs like PlayPal are being created, so that your child can learn as long as he or she are enjoying it. Enjoyment is the key to proper stimulation, motivation and development.
If your child isn’t enjoying it, don’t force him, The problem isn’t your kid, its the teacher. Find a teacher who can engage your child with love.
Do not let an “expert” convince you that abusive treatment is therapeutic - it is NOT! People do horrible things in the name of discipline or teaching. Restraints, yelling, name-calling, making a child feel bad about themselves IS abuse, as is any form of physical infliction or violation. DONT ALLOW IT! And it is downright damaging the child’s psyche, sense of self and will hinder any progress
You are your child’s greatest champion. Stand up for them. Challenge them but protect them.
IN CONCLUSION ...
PlayPal is just the beginning, we hope to bring a systemic overhaul over time.
CONTACT SETCO FOUNDATION FOR PLAYPAL TRAINING PROGRAM DETAILS
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