On the bright sunny morning just the day before Mahalaya, as the City of Joy geared up to immerse itself into the festive mood, VAANI, Deaf Children’s Foundation hosted Family Day for around 100 deaf children and their families. The children’s faces broke in to huge grins as soon as the tickets were exchanged for pink wrist bands which would allow them to access the free rides at Kolkata’s most loved amusement park. Once they were warned that wrist bands were not to be torn off, the children took it on to themselves to make sure they let everyone know how important the wrist bands were. Through gestures, signs, speech and highly animated expressions, they made sure that everyone knew the value of those pink wrist bands.
Volunteers and staff were inundated with pulls at their clothes and taps on their shoulders from impatient children asking when the rides would start! “Does Sheroo not walk?” seemed to be a popular question till the entire group was taken to Sheroo’s statue for a photograph to be shot. A hearty plate of snacks finished, the group headed towards the ride, ready to attack with full enthusiasm.
The day was well spent with the Nicco Park staff going out of their way to make sure that their visitors faced no problems and thoroughly enjoyed their day. Be it the Moonraker, the Cyclone or the Water Chute and Water Slide, the little children from VAANI and their parents livened up the atmosphere of the amusement park on this particular Monday morning. It was quite a task for the volunteers to bring back the group for lunch, which was again a tasty affair, thanks to Nicco Park. Posing for photographs, queuing up for rides and heartwarming laughter filled the day.
Parents were overheard exchanging notes on how they manage their children, and how proud they were that the children could now read, write, communicate. A great sense of bonding developed between the parents through the travel, sharing the fun on the rides, and eating at the same table. One look at the noisy group of happy families, and we knew our objective had been achieved.
As the children boarded the buses which would take them home, disappointment was written all over their faces that the day was ending. It wasn’t difficult to bring the smiles back on as soon as packets of chips and biscuits donated generously by ITC were distributed. They now had ample to munch on on their way back home.
It was heartening to see the faces of the parents’ light up with the sight of happy, naughty, delighted children jumping around the amusement park in unadulterated glee. The mode of communication that dominated the day was the exchange of smiles all around.
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The concept of Family Day:
This year, VAANI and our partners are observing World Deaf Week from 24th – 30th September, the theme being ‘Let us communicate in any way we can’.
VAANI believes that communication between deaf children and their families, their peers and their teachers is of prime importance, and all activities planned during this week will stress on different means of communication with deaf children. Deaf children can communicate through speech, sign language, lip-reading, gestures or even body language. Whatever be the mode, it is important that deaf children are able to share their thoughts and feelings with others. This is important for the social and emotional development of the child and this is what we will highlight through all the activities planned for this week.
A large section of parents of deaf children do not learn to communicate with their deaf children. VAANI organises a Family Day every year for the deaf children to bond with their parents, leave their worries behind, and have fun together. It is also a platform for parents of deaf children to share their experiences and connect with each other.