Published: 18th September 2019
This mother of a differently-abled kid started a pre-school where inclusivity is the norm
Farida Rizwan has been fighting against the social stigma of differentiating between regular and special kids through her preschool and daycare centre. Now, she is raising funds through Milaap
All of us talk about making society more inclusive, but we hardly practice it in reality. Farida Rizwan is one person who has been working hard for inclusivity by starting her own preschool which has one kid with special needs among eight regular kids. Her daughter Fareehna was the one who inspired her to start this school. Two decades ago, Farida was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was the question of life and death for her.
At the time, her daughter was just an 11-month-old baby with special needs. Assuming that she would survive and live happily with her daughter for a few years, Farida set out on the tough road to recovery. With the right treatment, she happened to beat cancer and is, you guessed it right, staying happily with her daughter now. She says, "My daughter is 24 and works at a vocational training centre. It feels like this journey that I have gone through happened only yesterday. But I have learnt many lessons throughout this tough journey. And treating special kids like any other kid is the most important lesson that I have learnt."
Two years ago, Farida invested her savings to start a preschool and daycare centre called My Giggle Garden in Bengaluru. Having come from a counselling and psychological therapy background, she decided to include one special kid and fight the social stigma attached to this move. Currently, 11 kids have enrolled with them, out of which, one kid has Down syndrome.
Explaining the reason behind starting her school, Farida says, "My daughter studied in a school that catered to the needs of special kids. Once, when I was having a conversation with her, she mentioned ‘we people’ and ‘you people’. Here, 'we people' meant kids with special needs and 'you people' meant other kids who can go about their routine all by themselves. That is when I decided to start a school of my own and fight this social stigma of discriminating between regular and special kids. Initially, and even now, when we tell parents that their child will study with one of the kids who has special needs, they hesitate to send their children to my school. Then, we make them understand how important it is for their kid to inculcate these values in their life. Gradually, things have been changing and they understand that it is fine to have special kids at school."
Colourful kids: Farida and her team with kids during the fancy dress competition at the school
What do they teach?
Like any other preschool and daycare centre, Farida and her team teach rhymes, alphabets, numbers, names of animals, birds, fruits, vegetables and much more. "The teaching method employed for all the kids is the same irrespective of whether the kid is regular or special. In the case of kids with special needs, we ask them to draw larger alphabets or numbers and encourage them to trace them as much as they can. It can help them grasp and write easily. Here, we see to it that we give equal attention to all kids so that other kids don't feel that we care only for kids with special needs," she adds.
Will to survive
According to Farida, there are at least 10 preschools and daycare centres which have sprung up within a one-kilometre radius of her locality. She explains, "Usually, people invest a lot when it comes to setting up a preschool to make it look attractive and have in place all kinds of infrastructure. But I was able to invest only `11 lakh and we provide limited facilities. This school is not meant for my survival or the survival of a few other employees. It is meant to be for a good cause, for the special needs of kids and their future. Hence, it has become important for me to survive in the market. At present, I am looking for someone who can fund my initiative through Milaap and help me contribute more to the lives of kids."