Published: 16th April 2020
How this differently-abled artist in Kerala has created an online art community for kids
Anjan Satish has brought together his own students and a number of others together to display the creative abilities of children during the COVID-19 lockdown
When the Prime Minister declared a national lockdown on March 24, Anjan Satish was most concerned about his students. Born with Cerebral Palsy, in addition to being speech and hearing impaired, Anjan has been using art as a means to express himself since the age of 5. Now, aged 30, Anjan has made a name for himself in the art world and on social media. And thanks to his inspiring journey, he teaches over 300 young differently-abled children at Adarsh Charitable Trust.
“All these children who have been learning to deal with a number of issues had no choice but to stay home. These are children who are autistic and who have cerebral palsy. Their parents were also not equipped to teach them on their own. So, as someone who has understand these issues first hand, I wanted to try and help however I could,” says Satish K, Anjan’s father.
Anjan decided that he would take their learning online. He clubbed together the numbers of the parents of the children he was teaching and created a group on WhatsApp. Anjan organised regular classes online by assigning the children an assignment at 10 am in the morning. They could try their hand at it and submit their finished work by 6 or 7 pm in the evening. Following this, Anjan would evaluate their work and send it back with any comments and recommendations.
WORK MATE: Anjan was made the honorary member of the Kerala Cartoon Academy in 2008
In just a few sessions, Anjan’s online classroom grew to more than 47 students. And as it always happens with good ideas, the word began to spread. Enquiries began to pour in from all around the world and the country including Ireland, Uganda, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc. Parents, of children with special needs and those without, requested Anjan to extend and expand his classes for children of more age groups and places.
So Anjan set up a second classroom for children without special needs as well of all ages from LKG to 12th standard. The curriculum was the same here as well. Students were divided according to their age and assigned 4-5 tasks to which would have to complete in a certain amount of time. Their platform would be open from 1 pm in the evening when the students could begin to send their responses. Soon, they began to receive over 700 paintings on a daily basis from over 250 children. And Anjan patiently suggests ideas and evaluations accordingly.
When the paintings began to pour in, the artist in Anjan could not resist but feel an urge to share the children’s genius with the world. Satish explains, “Anjan wanted to conduct an exhibition with some of their best work. We sent out a request and they sent back around 150 entries. From this, we chose 55 to conduct an online exhibition on Facebook. It is a nice push for these children during such an uncertain time, even parents are confused as to how to help them.”
And all thanks to Anjan’s formidable social media community, the work found an enraptured audience. He posted over 55 of the best work on his own Facebook wall where encouragement began pouring in for them. And does Anjan plan to keep this small online art festival going? “Since the lockdown will be extended for a few more days, it will continue for just as lond. After this, we will take the opinions of the participants themselves and decide if we should continue. We are all holed up in our homes and finding it difficult to channel our talents, for now, this is a gift for people like that.”