“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa.
Mangaluru: In a pioneering initiative, St Aloysius Pre-University College launched an inclusive buddy program. This innovative program aimed to provide specialized support to youths with special needs from Mangalore, under the banner of “Together We Belong: Celebrating Diversity.” The objective is to address the unique challenges faced by these individuals and empower them to reach their full potential.
This program united experienced counselors and the Special Parent Support group, forming a dedicated team committed to creating a nurturing and inclusive environment for children with diverse needs. The activities and interventions within the program were tailored to meet the individual requirements of differently-abled children.
‘Special Needs’ is a comprehensive phrase encompassing various diagnoses and disabilities in children that may persist throughout their lives. These are children facing difficulties in learning or engaging in other activities due to a disability or a combination of disabilities.
It was an opportunity for SAPUC to host and interact with special needs individuals, including those with Autism, Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual disability, and others facing delayed milestones.
The program’s distinctive approach involved buddies from St Aloysius Pre-University College, who underwent education on the special population, understanding their capacities and effective interaction strategies. In a heartening display of solidarity, these buddies organized a fundraiser to raise funds for thoughtful gifts for the children in the ‘Together We Belong: Celebrating Diversity’ program.
The program commenced with a prayerful rendition led by the choir, followed by a warm welcome from Sarah Crasta, Coordinator of the Buddy Programme, who shared the inception of this inspiring idea.
In his address, Fr Melwin Pinto SJ, the Rector of St Aloysius Institutions, shared personal anecdotes and illuminated how these experiences influenced his personal growth. Expressing fervent support for the initiative, he encouraged the buddies to wholeheartedly embrace learning and growth.
Emphasizing that this platform serves as a catalyst for stepping out of comfort zones, he highlighted its role in fostering inclusion and acceptance among individuals facing challenges, thereby promoting peace and harmony.
Meena Noronha, the parent representative of the Special Parent Group, provided insights into the experiences of these families. While each family’s journey is unique, their commonality lies in their dedication to ensuring the happiness and well-being of their children.
She expressed joy at witnessing their children making new buddies who were not only willing to understand their challenges but also eager to learn more about them. Her closing remarks hoped for more activities to instill empathy and foster friendships among the special and non-special individuals.
Fr Clifford Sequeira SJ, the Principal, Vilma Fernandes, Vice Principal- Commerce and Arts, Kiran Shetty, Dean-Science, graced the event with their presence. The formal program concluded with a vote of thanks by Sr Valsa C A, followed by fun and lively songs, dance, and games conducted by the buddies.|
This program stands as a beacon of inclusivity, inviting differently-abled individuals to our college as ‘Special Buddies.’ Paired with student buddies from our college, they engaged in various activities that fostered meaningful connections. Through this initiative, students not only became educated and aware but also cultivated acceptance for those with different intellectual capacities.
The buddies of St Aloysius Pre-University College, educated on the special population and effective interaction, organized a fundraiser to ensure thoughtful gifts for their new friends. This collaboration extended to the ‘Special Parents Support Group,’ a parent group from Mangalore, who were delighted to witness their wards enjoying the program.
The program concluded with a joyful get-together lunch, where our buddies presented the Special Buddies with friendship bands and gifts. Sangeeta Sequeira compèred the programme.
In a world that celebrates diversity, programs like ‘Together We Belong: Celebrating Diversity’ stand as a testament to the commitment of institutions like SAPUC, to ensure that every child, regardless of their unique challenges, is equipped to thrive and succeed. The counseling team of SAPUC – Sangeeta Sequeira, Bakyalakshmi, Vishanth Menezes, Sarah Crasta, and Sr Valsa CA. orchestrated this meaningful and special event.
The parents of the participants, along with members of the Special Parent Support group, conveyed their appreciation for this engaging and heartwarming gathering. The program provided the student buddies with a unique and enlightening experience, offering profound insights into life’s challenges and fostering new avenues of learning.