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Santipur Rangapeeth Extends Support To Mentally Challenged Children

2015-12-18 12:12

Mentally children with their mothers performing at the Rangapeeth theatre festival in Santipur on Thursday evening. Picture by ABHI GHOSH


Santipur, Dec. 17: A theatre group from Nadia's Santipur has come up to support the mentally retarded children in the town to bring them in normal life and to make awareness among the people.

The Rangapeeth theatre group which has started using the theatre as a tool for behavioral therapy, inaugurated its 10day long theatre festival on Thursday by staging a play performed by eight mentally challenged children and their mothers to make people aware to change their mindset about mentally retarded children and to tell the society that they are part of our life.

On Thursday Srijani, Sandipta, Sayandip, Swarnali and others staged a 20 minutes play titled "Amra" in which they danced and acted silently with their mothers with vivid expressions.

The theatre festival is being held with support of Union Ministry of Culture.

The Rangapeeth theatre group is the first theatre group beyond Calcutta, which has been using theatre as a ‘tool’ for behavioral therapy to bring the mentally retarded children to normal life.

Eminent playwright director Chandan Sen said: “I am aware of some theatre groups working with visually challenged children, but has not heard any group specifically working with mentally retarded children. It is definitely a good effort”.

While the objective is to create awareness among people who often isolate these children as "pagol", at the same time it was aimed to recognize the role of their mothers, who have been trying to make the society conducive for their living.

Chief of Rangapeeth Biswajit Biswas, a graduate from National School of Drama, said: “It is just a beginning of our endeavor for these children. We feel pained when see them being isolated by society. We also found many people ashamed being the parent of such children. So we decided to make an effort to bring these children back to the mainstream of the society and to change its mindset”.

“Initially we found it very tough to work with these children as most of them are hyper in attitude. These children are generally trained by special educator. But, we found a communication gap between with the special educators. They have limitations to reach the mind of these children. But, we have found that performing arts like songs, dance, and play work immensely on them. We started working three months ago. The landmark change in their behavior encouraged us to bring them on the stage today to present them before the society”, added Biswas.

Madhumita Sen, a primary school teacher and mother of mentally challenged girl (Srijani, 12) said: “We are thankful to Rangapeeth for its sincere initiative. The effort has worked well. As a mother of a retarded child I took special education to train my daughter. But, I realized that it has limitation. But, the play therapy implemented at Rangapeeth workshop worked immensely. The changes in the behavior of the children are visible”.

Mothers like Madhumita, Nandita Biswas, Durga Samaddar, Debi Ghosh are optimistic that Thursday’s show of their, would bring a change among people.

Nandita, wife of a LIC agent said: “While we are happy with our children, the society often makes us depressed by its attitude. Our children do not want sympathy; they just want their right to live peacefully with dignity. They are part of this society and so they should not be isolated and humiliated”.

Madhumita, however, thinks that parents of such children also need counseling. “During 2011 I found 92 children suffering from mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities in Santipur. I tried to organize them to run a parents’ society. But, all ignored my appeal in shame and dumped their children in isolation without any treatment”.

Biswajit Biswas of Rangapeeth said: “The society is equally retarded still and need counseling. These mothers could do a great job to communicate with society. We will also take their help to communicate and to convince other parents to come up leaving their prejudice for sake of their children”.

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