Special kids train for Olympics

Chennai corporation now teaches 10 special needs children
Chennai: Five years after it started with two students in their “special” swimming classes, Chennai corporation now teaches 10 special needs children. The first corporation in the country to dedicate a team to teach swimming to differently-abled children, the programme is now preparing two teenage boys to compete in the 2016 Olympics for special children.
“Since no one in the team is above 12 years, even good swimmers cannot be taken to the national-level games,” explains M. Muniyandi, coach at the corporation swimming pool at My Lady’s Park.
“However, two children, Bala and Balaneelakandan from the team will be taken for the Olympics for specially children in 2016.” When the father of Bala (a child with delayed developmental parameters), a Central government employee brought him here a year ago, the boy could not even walk upright. Now, he swims very well, adds Muniyandi and continues that he is able to give the full address of his school and house and shares the news headlines of the day with everyone.
Parents of these children say that their mental health has drastically improved after being trained in swimming. “My 8-year-old son was diagnosed with attention defective hyperactive disorder with autistic features right from birth. He would have mood swings and there was no eye contact. But his behaviour changed in about one-and-a-half years after he was trained in swimming,” says Deepa Suresh, mother of Aakash from Kellys. He learnt swimming in eight months and Aakash is so familiar with swimming now that he does 40 laps at a stretch. He passed class 2 this year with the fifth rank in his school, she adds with pride.
Doctors asked his parents to train him either in skating or swimming. Since skating requires extra energy and speed, I feared that this is not apt for a child who is already hyperactive and so I took him for swimming, says Deepa.
“We study the problem of every child for about 10 days and train them accordingly. It is not difficult for us to make children do what we say. They get down into the water on the first day itself,” Muniyandi continues. When these children are put into water, they drink water and being to be dragged in. So, they automatically move their legs and hands in order to float. As days go by, the children begin to concentrate and try to understand and learn. Breathing exercises in swimming also help them, he said.
So is the case with other children in the corporation’s special children team — Gangadharan, Balaneelakandan, Madhivannan, Joe, Narayanan, Sujitha and Tamiliniyan - all between 6 and 12 years of age.
The Chennai corporation’s swimming team was formed in 2004 by the then commissioner of the civic body M.P. Vijayakumar and the swimming team for special children was formed in 2010 by the then commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni. At present, the corporation swimming team consists of about 100 members in all categories.
( Source : dc )
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