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Piyush (male, 14 years)

The inquisitive boy who overcame challenges

Piyush is a 15-year-old boy from Pokharkarwadi village in Karjat. His family includes his mother, father, a twin brother, Ayush, and sister Divya (17). The family business revolves around crafting materials for event/tent decorations, a trade handed down from his grandparents, and thriving with the active involvement of women of all ages in the family.

When Piyush and Ayush were born, their parents weren't aware they were expecting twins. They lived in a remote village with limited access to medical facilities. Both the twins were born following severe birth complications, leading to insufficient oxygen supply to the brain. As a result, the parents spent nearly two weeks at a children’s hospital in Thane. It was a challenging start, and the boys were eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy. A few years later, it became clear that Ayush’s condition was more severe compared to Piyush’s.

Piyush had a difficult start in education. He was first enrolled in ZP school, Pokharkarwadi, but he was mostly excluded from all classroom activities. In late 2018, Piyush signed up for LKG (Lower KG) at Samaaveshi’s kindergarten in Kashele village. Later, in June 2022, he was promoted to grade 3 in ZP school (Kashele), and was one of the first children with disabilities to be enrolled in this public school.

I often recall the day I first met Piyush. He was overjoyed at the prospect of having a personal teacher to guide him in his studies. He expressed his desire to learn computers, asking if I would be willing to teach him. I gladly agreed, and our journey began. Piyush was exceptionally bright and had a natural inclination for asking questions. He'd often inquire, "Teacher, what are we learning today? Do you mind if I ask questions?" His inquisitiveness knew no bounds, making him the most engaging student in the class.

However, Piyush's interactions with classmates during study breaks were challenging. He preferred to sit alone, despite others' attempts to engage with him. Also, Piyush had a bit of a stubborn streak. The turning point came when the teacher proposed that Piyush could use the computer for some of his activities and join his peers during lunch break. Besides, Piyush and other children with special learning needs from ZP school are sent for weekly ‘remedial classes’ at Samaaveshi’s community library/disability resource centre where the focus is on using assistive resources to address specific learning issues, and conduct group activities aimed at building positive relationships and socio-emotional well-being.

After a brief contemplation, Piyush gradually began to shed his stubbornness. This marked the beginning of a positive change as he began to participate more actively in group activities, bringing happiness both to himself and his peers. The latter would willingly support him to access the toilet during recess, and also involve him during sports activities.

Besides, Piyush's parents played a crucial role in supporting his education and emphasizing the importance of physiotherapy to improve his physical abilities. They made it a point to send Piyush for the weekly physiotherapy offered by Samaaveshi’s community library. After two years without physiotherapy during COVID-19 pandemic, his parents are glad to see gradual improvement in his mobility and muscle strength. This has increased his confidence and he’s among the first to take part in co-curricular events such as storytelling and public speaking.

Thus, despite initial challenges, I’m glad to see that Piyush's unwavering curiosity, determination, and encouragement from his family, have propelled him toward continuous growth and a better learning experience at school.

©Samaaveshi Pathshaala, 2024