Like Naina, Let Our Kids Learn Of This ‘Inclusive Duniya’ Where Differences Are Understood, Accepted, & Celebrated

Naina believes that not only her school, but every place, should be truly inclusive. Not just inclusive school, why not an inclusive duniya?

Let me introduce you to Naina.

When Naina was  a little girl, she loved cakes. And dogs. And unicorns. When she started school, her mother sent her to an inclusive school, where she made many new friends and learnt many things.

Some of her memorable experiences were with these friends.

In art class, she met Arya, who had painted the most beautiful sunset ever, but she had used potatoes and not crayons!! When Naina was surprised, the art teacher explained that some children take longer to develop fine motor skills, and so it was difficult for Arya to be able to grip crayons or paint brushes. When everyone saw the lovely painting Arya had made, all the children began asking for potatoes and even smearing paints on their hands just like Arya did for special effects. It was the most fun art class ever!!

Naina noticed that when Jayesh spoke, he stuttered-and that the other children made fun of him. She went home and told her mother about Jayesh. Her mother smiled and waited for Naina to finish. “He just needs a bit of time to turn his thoughts into speech, and we all have a moment to give him, right?”

Shyla was unable to write a story in words because her speech and language development was delayed. The teacher, believing in multi-sensory tactics, allowed the children to use any medium Shyla to tell the story. Naina cheered when Shyla, who used a lego set to tell her story came first, came first!

Samaira, who was on the autism spectrum, often experienced sensory overload and would suddenly get anxious. The other children would often shout to encourage her, until her father explained that she needed frequent timeouts, like all of us did sometimes when we felt very were tried.

Naina understood that others could be different from how she was

Through her mother and the educators at school, Naina began to understand that all the children were different in some way from each other. They gave examples from nature to help her understand this.

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There are so many species in nature. Each is different, but none are considered disabled or given special labels. They exist just as they are.

Spiders have eight eyes, bats have two. Penguins have wings but can’t fly. And that is the way it is. Even two siblings will view the world differently, but neither would be wrong or inferior or should be belittled for it. Then why look at people who are different as lesser?! Let us extend the same acceptance to those with an intellectual disability, or, for that matter, any disability. Love everyone for their uniqueness, just as they are.

That was what her inclusive school was doing

This same but different made a lot of sense to little Naina.

Naina had also noticed how Vicky, who used a caliper to walk would often get left behind in a group. But only when she fell and broke a bone and found that she couldn’t reach the library which was at the end of a flight of stairs, did she realize how frustrating it would have been for Vicky to have to manage in an environment that was not designed for people like him. When she recovered, instead of expecting Vicky to hasten, Naina began slowing down and they would walk together every day.

The early years she spent at her inclusive school taught Naina to understand, accept and celebrate differences. Now, she is growing up to be a big girl with a big heart, sensitive, and aware of how important it is to be inclusive. She doesn’t need her mother with her all the time, as she continues to explore the world, especially the outdoors which she loves.  She believes that all the different kinds of flowers add to the beauty of a bouquet or a garden. Like that, people are also different. All are strong in different ways.  When people come together, they share learn and enjoy. Everyone is a learner and a teacher.

And, Naina has a dream, a vision

She discovered that there are about 1 billion people or 15 % of the world population living with disability.

Naina believes that not only her school, but every place, should be truly inclusive. Not just inclusive school, why not an inclusive duniya? She believes in her heart that disability is a social construct and that Intellectual Disability has been defined from the perspective of society. She is ready to teach the lessons she learnt to those around her and make the world an inclusive place.The first step to making the world truly inclusive is to hear them, understand their needs and meeting their needs.

On this journey, she is accompanied by Sunny… who loves painting, making a mess and cleaning it up. True to his name, his disposition, and his singing, are cheerful enough to brighten up any party. He also has Down’s syndrome.

Join Naina on this mission. Be a part of her world on instagram which she calls the Inclusive Duniya. @inclusiveduniya. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Inclusive Duniya is India’s first comic dedicated to understanding and mainstreaming the intellectually disabled.

With single or a few beautifully illustrated panels, these are bringing home the message of empathy and inclusiveness and of course kindness. The lovingly sketched panels, done up in watercolors show the world as it should be, and it can be, through the eyes of Naina and her friends.

Check out these comics and share them so that we are finally able to build a world where everyone is able to accept and respect differences, develop sensitivity, able to appreciate unique gifts, making them tolerant, peaceful or kind, better, kinder, more compassionate human beings.

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About the Author

shalini mullick

Shalini is an author and a practicing doctor specializing in respiratory pathology. Her book Stars from the Borderless Sea (2022) was longlisted for the AutHer Awards 2023 (Debut category). Shalini was awarded a Jury Appreciation read more...

40 Posts | 84,961 Views

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