Unified Play festival

Background of the Practice

The awareness about the problems and uniqueness of the differently abled has been included in all the areas of education including research. Children and young people with disabilities continue to be one of the most disadvantaged groups in all our societies. Accepting them as they are and knowing what to-do for them is quite different thing of course. Keeping this context in mind, a set of training practice was designed exclusively for the Persons with Disabilities (PwD) who will partner with the normal students of their age. The peer group centered programme, a quality practice, “Unified Sports” an offshoot of Special Olympics which has proven efficacy in improving social interaction, confidences, and self-esteem of special children.

For more than fifteen years, our faculty (GAPEY) has been dedicated to provide unified mode of sports training and conduct adapted sports competition for persons with disabilities. It is a massive inclusive extension program organized for more than 500 students every year. Functional skills of differently abled children are developed through physical activities. The teacher trainees who are trained in conducting adapted games and sports for the disabled are empowered to offer such training during their internship. The differently abled children studying in inclusive and special schools of the age group 12 – 17 years are included in the training program. In inclusive schools, this training is provided to both differently abled and non-disabled children spread over to 20 days. After training, they are brought to the institution for exhibiting their skills before the audience.

The main objective of the Unified Play Day (UPD) is to provide a multi-factorial approach towards children with disabilities by providing them equal opportunities that are enjoyed by the normal children. Moreover, the Unified Play Day being a social gathering of large number of parents of children with disabilities, is a platform for interaction among them. They also get an opportunity to observe various proven therapies helpful to children with disabilities and interact with specialized experts of these therapeutic tools and exchange notes with other parents using these therapies. For experts, it is a great opportunity to observe children with disabilities of various categories at one place and to learn home or traditional remedies being practiced by many parents. For children, the UPD is a unique outdoor excursion and learning experience through play, yogic asanas, callisthenics, hand kerchief, mirror exercises, etc., conducive to their physical and mental well-being.

The Unified Play Day programme includes the following activities:

  1. Group demonstration of Yoga, Flag drill, Hoops drill, Pyramid, Kerchief drill
  2. Play therapy, Physiotherapy, Water therapy, Music therapy
  3. Sports Competition in Bocce & 5-a side football (ID), Adapted Volleyball (VI), Throw ball (HI).

Objectives of the Practice

  • To empower students with disabilities to achieve their potential growth in all developmental areas: cognitive, physical/motor, social-emotional, and approaches to inclusive learning.
  • To design a package of synchronized physical activities and functional motor skills for disabled and non-disabled students through unified mode of training in inclusive school setting.
  • To make disabled children perform their functional skills along with their counterparts through physical and rhythmic activities.
  • To enable the disabled students and their parents to understand the supportive role played by the integrated approach using various therapies for reinforcing functional skills.
  • To create a common ground between physical & special educators and parents to understand various collaborative strategies available for strengthening overall development of the disabled child.
  • To identify the strengths and weaknesses of the unified physical activities program and how well this program caters to the developmental needs of the students with disabilities

Evidence of Success

This unified mode of functional training not only helps the disabled children in developing physical skills but also to provide an opportunity for them to build social and interpersonal skills. Parents and teachers are also encouraged to find creative ways to implement reasonable accommodations to ensure that all students with special needs can be successful in the school/home environment:

  • Students with and without disabilities found improvement in the control of gross motor skills and coordination during large movements.
  • Promotes independent functioning through development of functional skills (gross motor skills, fine motor skills, movement skills, and daily living Activities)
  • The students with and without disability reported that they enjoyed playing with each other and strongly agreed that they felt they have developed better friendship with students with disabilities after this training intervention in the inclusive setting.
  • Parents of students with disabilities recognized the importance of inclusive activities for their children and valued the opportunities of getting exposures to various therapy stalls at one place.