In May 2022, Modern School, a co-educational private school in Delhi made its sports facilities, courts and grounds available for people with disabilities to come and play on
New Delhi: Ready to run in the winter sun; a 100-meter race and a playing field that welcomes all. This sports field is buzzing with children excited about an inclusive sports festival organised by Umoya Sports in collaboration with Modern School at Barakhamba Road in New Delhi. This one-day event, called Aagaz, saw more than 200 children from 15 schools participate in track events, blind cricket and Wheelchair Frisbee.
“How many of us are seeing children with disabilities in our playgrounds?” asks Aditya K.V., Founder and CEO of Umoya Sports. With his initiative, Aditya is addressing this very question and helping children with disabilities play without any barriers. He explains,
“We have partnered with Modern School to create ‘Sportability’, an inclusive sports academy. Sportability is a safe space that offers a platform and voice to individuals with disabilities who come and experience sports not just recreationally but also competitively. Children with different disabilities come here.”
Sportability is not just about this one-day event. In May 2022, Modern School, a co-educational private school in Delhi made its sports facilities, courts and grounds available for people with disabilities to come and play on. What started as a small program has now grown to almost 100 people using the premises.
Ambika Pant, Honorary Secretary, Board of Trustees, Modern School believes every school can make its premises inclusive and available for children across age groups. She says,
“People from far-flung neighbourhoods including Ghaziabad and Noida, come to Modern School. It costs them huge sums of money to travel with their wheelchairs and other equipment. Schools are dotted across neighbourhoods, covering the entire country. Every school can do this if they allow their spaces to be utilised outside of school hours. This way, children won’t have to travel that distance; they can just go to their neighbourhood school if the school allows them to come and play.”
It isn’t just children. Shiv Kumar regularly comes here to play blind cricket from Mukherjee Nagar in North Delhi. Like Shiv Kumar, many sports enthusiasts find this a safe space to exercise their desire to play.
Sonu Gupta a Table Tennis Player with World Rank 72 shared,
“The best part is that nobody stops us from playing. When we play cricket, nobody tells us that the pitch will get spoiled due to our wheelchairs. But if we go to some other ground, we are not allowed to play. That’s the reason we come here to play.”
Talking about creating an inclusive environment – not just in terms of the physical space but also learning and development, Radha Gidwani a parent said,
“If my child wants to go swimming, why should she be stopped because of her disability or special needs? Why can’t you keep a trainer for a special needs child? Similarly, why do we need a specific playground for special needs? Why can’t special needs children come together with other kids and feel that they are a part of society?”
Inclusive playgrounds and playing facilities are still the exception rather than the norm in India. Making them more widespread and available for people with disabilities does not need a special design, it only needs acceptance and space.
Samarth by Hyundai in partnership with NDTV, is an initiative that seeks to promote inclusivity, change perceptions, and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities.