Sixteen-year-old Amar is hearing impaired and speech disabled. During lockdown, he had slipped into depression since he missed the outdoor activities that were conducted at the home in Baruipur where he has been staying for four years. The superintendent then changed his regular routine and included music, dance and puzzle sessions. Two weeks later, Amar is now in a happier space.
In a rapid online survey conducted by Child Rights and You (CRY) on understanding the effects of Covid-19 on children, 37% of the respondents said that children’s psychological well-being and happiness have been affected during this phase. “This was most reported from the eastern states. Here, 51% respondents said that for children in densely populated urban settlements, dearth of space further adds to the problem,” said Trina Chakrabarti, Regional Director, East, CRY.
Partha Sarathi Das, Legal Cum Probation Officer, District Child Protection Unit, that looks after approximately 19 child care institutes in Kolkata, has come across various NGO who are now relying on the arts to lift their spirits during the pandemic.
Future Hope, for instance, is using arts and softer skills online to pep up the mental health of kids who are stuck in their homes for the last 50 days. “Since our NGO kids are engaged in studies from nine to one daily, they need a stressbuster which the arts provide especially in the evening. It makes them happy and free from the current stage of captivity,” said Samarjit Guha, director, homes, Future Hope that takes care of vulnerable children from the streets and slums of Kolkata. Sessions have already been organized by actor-director Parambrata Chattopadhyay, percussionist Pt Tanmoy Bose, DJ Akash, designer Abhishek Dutta, singers Mahalaxmi Iyer and Antara Chowdhury, dancer Sreenanda Shankar and chef Neelabh.
Samiran Mallik, CEO of Hope Kolkata Foundation hospital and board member of Hope Kolkata Foundation, has also been organizing similar programmes for 1000 children aged between six and 18 who stay in their 14 homes across the city. “Among the various activities are online drawing competition and quiz contests,” Mallik said.
What’s very interesting is how speech and hearing impaired children are responding to musical sessions. “Though Amar and 11 others like him are hearing and speech impaired, it is pleasantly surprising to see how they react to music. I feel, they have a sense of rhythm and connect with their heart. Their anxiety levels have gone down after we started indoor activities including story-telling sessions which involve acting. Dance therapy helps them relax. Meditation and prayers have also helped. Comedies, including cartoons and Charlie Chaplin films, are being regularly screened for them,” said Aloke Patra, superintendent of New Age Society for All that has 75 special children.
Twenty five kids aged between 10 and 18 of Keertika have been staying at the protection home in Tollygunje. Superintendent Sayantani Basu has spoken to an organization for conduction dance movement therapy for the children. “We also want to them to engage in yoga, dance and craft lessons keeping in mind the schedule of their online studies,” Basu said.
Source: Times of India