Volunteering with children with disabilities. By Tinka Hughes

The Disability Inclusion Project.

#kicklikeagirl

During my time volunteering in Mumbai I have experienced the amazing programmes OSCAR  provides, such as the education, football , life skills and young leader programmes. But there was one that really stood out to me, the Disability Inclusion Project, which includes all disabilities, deaf, mute, blind, physical, & learning difficulties. The programme, inspired by staff member, Govind has been running for 6 months.  To date 113 boys and girls across Mumbai, are actively involved. I had the privilege of helping the OSCAR team at the “The Bombay Institute for Deaf and Mutes”, 

At first I was very apprehensive, I thought it was going to be very difficult to communicate. However, as soon as I got there, everyone was so friendly, putting me at ease, smiling, greeting me enthusiastically and including me in their games.  The way the boys &  girls communicate was amazing to see. Their facial expressions and gestures made it very clear what they were trying to say and I found I too could understand. They were full of life, screaming and running about joyfully, using lots of eye contact, clapping and physical touch to get their peers attention.

It was heart-warming to work with Govind, Fardin and the young leader, Akshay and to see how gentle they were with the children and how much respect the children had for them, paying attention to every word they said and signed. The OSCAR coaches found it difficult to teach the children at first, because of the communication barrier and the fact that they had never played football.  The children had to learn the rules and the coaches had to learn how best to communicate, but every session it got easier. OSCAR engaged Everton FC in a training session and afterwards all the coaches learnt sign language. But seeing the smiles on the boys faces when OSCAR brings out the minimal equipment for the session really puts it into perspective, It shows just how much this means to them and made me feel part of something very special.

Every session the children get better and learnt more life skills, as well as football, due to the coaches inventive and fun training ideas. During my time I saw the difference just one session can make to their knowledge of the game, confidence and communication skills. The incredible work OSCAR does to make every child and youth feel included, not just in sport but daily life is so uplifting. Their energetic presence and love for the sport and changing lives really does show in the children’s actions and reactions. I have been so inspired by the staff, coaches and young leaders, dedicating their lives to OSCAR and clearly changing lives for the better.

#oscarenablingchange #disablity #disabilityinclusion

The Bombay Institution for Deaf and Mutes
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