St. John of God Special School

St. John of God Special School

St. John of God Centre was started by Brothers of St. John of God (Hospitaller Order of St. John of God) for the support and training of children and young adults with learning disabilities those who are differently abled. This centre is established under the auspice of the Society for the Empowerment of the Learning Disabled (SELD), a registered charitable organization.


St. JohnofGodSpecialSchool

Bro. Augustine Polaprayil initiated and actualised the project at Velloor after returning In 1997 fromGermanyandIrelandwhere  he specialized in the field of Special Education. Five differently abled clients from our homes for the aged at Kattappana and Poonamallee were selected and a small centre was started in May 1998. Eventually more clients arrived and the need was felt for a bigger centre with modern facilities.

In the meantime Brothers and Co-workers from Ireland (in 1998) and Australia (in 2000) conducted seminars in India in which issues relating to managing challenging behaviours were discussed and objectives, programmes and policies for the Velloor Centre were formulated.

The Centre strives for the holistic development of the differently abled by promoting their well-being and rehabilitation, by creating awareness in society and families of their obligations to the differently abled, and by training the differently abled to live independently and assume their rightful place within their families and the society at large.

With the assistance of theBavarianProvinceof the Order, a model centre with the best practices for the differently abled was officially inaugurated on 1st November 2003. The new facilities comprise a modern and well-equipped school, comfortable yet homely hostels for different age groups and sexes, staff canteen, chapel and residences for the communities of Brothers and Sisters.

The residential facility has a preferential option to support and train the neediest which include the orphaned, those with profound learning disabilities, those from impoverished families, those not able to have access to local facilities, and those whose needs cannot be met within their families. The centre also offers educational opportunities for day students, and provides transport support that enables the attendance of children from a wide geographical region. At present there are 80 residential students and 40 day-care students.

These facilities proclaim that the differently abled should be valued and respected in the best possible manner. The Centre seeks to be client-centred, to be an institute of excellence and aims to provide consultancy, support and in-service training for other institutions.

1. Education and Training Services

The term ‘mental retardation’ is not well understood and misrepresents the abilities, hopes and aspirations of those whose intellectual abilities do not fall within the normal range. Whereas the term ‘differently abled’ highlights the right to individuality, integrity and dignity that is the right of each person. Children who are differently abled can, and do learn, striving for their own personal goals and interests that lead them into an adulthood that can be independent and contributing to the social good of the nation.

Education and training at the St. John of God Special School are organised according to the schemes and guidelines of the apex professional body forIndia, the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (NIMH). Students are admitted after thorough assessment of their intellectual capacity and their relevant personal and family background. All educational programmes aim at maximising the holistic potential of the individual person.

Students are also initiated into a variety of recre­ational activities. They have oppor-tunities to deve­lop their talents in many areas, including music, dance, handicrafts and cottage based industries.

Sporting activities, participation in district, state and national competitions are encouraged. Organised after-school programmes are an important aspect of each student’s daily life and timetable.

2. Residential Services

The St. John of God Centre offers a residential option to those students who live far away from special school facilities, whose family circumstances require placement, or whose behaviour necessitates specialized external training. There are five hostels (homes) located in the facility.MariaHomeoffers residential placement for girls and young women.AngelHomecares for young boys who attend the school.RichardHomeis for boys above eighteen, Donatus Home for boys between 12 and 18 and Menni Home for boys who can live independently.

The aim of these homes is to create an atmosphere that one would experience in one’s own home. The hostels also serve the purpose of creating a domestic environment where social skills and independence training undertaken in the school can be reinforced and practised. Some of the residents of the hostels are orphans and no distinction is made between them and the others.

3. Allied Health Support Services

The Allied Health Support Team consists of professionals from the fields of social work, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The Social Worker is responsible for providing the bridge between the centre and the client’s family and caregivers. The Physiotherapist is available to those clients of the centre who experience gross or fine motor difficulties, and is considered an integral component of their individualised programme. Occupational therapy is also offered to clients and is a valuable adjunct to enhancing the life of all those who are in the centre.

4. Hospitality Services

The Hospitality Services at the centre are dedicated to supporting the education and training opportunities of each client through the provision of a well balanced diet, hygienic and aesthetically pleasing working and living environments, and the maintenance of plants and equipment that ensure health and safety for all.

Hospitality Services also provide transport for day-care students and support the centre’s engagement with the wider community. They also provide supportive employment opportunities for some older clients of the centre.

5. Pastoral Care Services

Pastoral Care services contribute to the integrated care of persons who are differently abled, their families and the religious and Co-workers of the centre. It has the task of being a pastoral presence by living and manifesting the gifts inherited from St. John of God, through words, deeds and apostolic methods that respond to the needs and expectations of all concerned.

6. Administration Services

Administrative services seek to develop and implement updated recording and accountability systems, secretarial services, and a warm and hospitable welcome to St. John of God Centre.

The Brothers and the Sisters, together with the Co-workers, dedicate themselves to the promotion and development of the differently abled through positive engagement with them. This relationship enables us all to treat them as valued members of society.

This great endeavour receives much needed assistance and support from both the well-wishers and the local people. Let us hope that in the future we will be able to bring the differently abled into the mainstream of society by the joint efforts of special schools, families, societies, NGOs and like­minded organisations.