August 22, 2015
Sharanalayam’s Third Eye meets the needs of special children from varying backgrounds
So many children with special needs lost out on opportunities that might help them lead a near-normal or, at least, a less dependent life. This is primarily because of lack of acceptance by parents and financial constraints. It is to deal with both these issues that Sharanalayam, the organisation started by Vanitha Rangaraj in January 2001, began Third Eye two years ago.
Third Eye has about 18 students now, a mix of children from families that can afford to pay and those from underprivileged backgrounds. The former pays, the latter is given admission free of cost. Parents have issues leaving special children in hostels. And so, Third Eye functions as a day school. Children in Coimbatore and Pollachi are picked up from their home and dropped back every evening. This ensures that they stick on in school and don’t drop out due to logistics issues.
“Many of our children have autism, and range in age from three to 15 years. We see a drastic improvement in them three months after they join us. I just wish they were brought in earlier. It is easier to train younger children,” says Vanitha.
Another issue they face is children being severely overweight. “Since they are kept at home for long and don’t mingle with other children, parents use food to keep the children free from trouble. As a result, they end up eating often, and eating unhealthy food. We teach them the importance of eating a balanced meal, the need to focus and sit in one place and why they must obey instructions,” she says.
Vanitha’s daughter Sharanya Babuprasad takes care of this wing. She has trained in the US in behavioural analysis. The children here go through a planned syllabus where they learn to identify colours and different vegetables, and to count currency. The school uses the latest technology, and gifted children are soon integrated into regular schools. Vanitha says Third Eye serves as a bridge to help these children realise their potential.
The school is housed in a new building. This and the transport facility are courtesy the Round Table Metropolitan 62 and Ladies Circle 23. The school incurs a cost of Rs. 70,000 a month towards teachers’ salaries and other amenities. “In a way, it is the generous public that helps us run the school,” says Vanitha. If you want to contribute, call 98422-54204 or visit www.sharanalayam.org