Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Inclusion Works

Here's Lakshi (again). OK, so I am a little besotted. But there she is in my kitchen every morning and my garden every afternoon. Last night she saw I was serving cake to some guests and she crept into the living room, snagged a piece and somehow managed to fall fast asleep in my arms a bit later.

I'm hooked. So when I see her at Latika Vihar, I can't help but feel proprietary and fascinated. She's such a little bundle of energy and mischief. And so fetching.

She is ALSO a text-book case of being three. Watching her is instructive and fun.

Lakshi adores Latika Vihar. She counts the hours for it to be time to go and she refuses to leave until the last possible second. But one day a few weeks ago, she suddenly announced that she no longer wanted to be a member. When her older brother got ready to leave, she simply refused to budge.

It finally emerged that one of our special kids had frightened her. Kritika is adorable, but she has a habit of suddenly lashing out at other children without warning or provocation. Lakshi had been hit a few times too many and she wasn't willing to chance it happening again.

Enter Hema. In spite of her tiny size, she has a larger than life presence and, as the Coordinator of Latika Vihar, she is determined that every child have the best possible time while there. She is Miss Inclusion and she makes sure every kid feels special and wanted.

Slowly, steadily, she wooed Lakshi back, encouraging her to take part in events she enjoyed:

helping her to develop friendships with older girls with whom she felt safe:

while simultaneously working with Kritika to help her develop better social skills. Inclusion doesn't just happen miraculously. It needs time and thought and a lot of attention.

But when all those things come together, miracles (of fun and play and joy) do occur:

Lakshi is back! And engaged!

And here she is with Kritika, the girl she was so afraid of just a few months ago.

Proving once again that miracles do occur, and inclusion does happen - but not out of nothing, not just by wishing. It's based on skill and hard work and unswerving belief. It's what we owe our kids and what we know can come true if we want it enough.


shipra said...

A real life success story of love, determination and commitment towards your work.Wonderful pictures,Jo!

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks, Shipra - so much of this began with you! And by the way, we need you here for the opening ceremony of the Doon EIC!

Entropy said...

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.

Entropy said...

“I have spent my life…trying to share enough with strangers to make learning possible, learning to identify divergent premises instead of taking my own for granted, and to accept a broader or more ambiguous view than common sense.

The basic challenge we face today in an interdependent world is to disconnect the notion of difference from the notion of superiority, to turn the unfamiliar into a resource rather than a threat.”