Muskan means smile! The smile on every person’s face is highly important because it is believed that smiling accentuates beauty. And a person always smiles when they are delighted in their life.
But those who are born without disabilities are the privileged ones because they have access to everything they see, hear, touch, and feel. They also work hard to obtain their favourite things in life, which makes them smile.
People without disabilities have opportunity to everything in life, including education, employment, and a plethora of other opportunities, but most of the time, we observe that people with specific disabilities do not lead very successful lives because they must put up with a lot of hardship in order to survive.
In the past, there were limited resources for disabled people to learn about their expertise because it is a well-known axiom that whenever God creates an individual with a disability, he also bestows them with extra and unique abilities.
In a similar vein, the Muskan Foundation for People with Multiple Disabilities assists kids who have multiple disabilities. The foundation places a strong emphasis on offering comprehensive assistance so that kids with numerous disabilities can also lead normal, self-sufficient life.
Through MDVI (Multiple Disability with Vision Impairment), the foundation helps children to reach their full potential. In addition, the trust offers customized, affordable therapies and special education services together under one roof, and it gives parents the knowledge, skills, and assurance they need to support their children’s individual abilities, needs, and development.
The Muskan Foundation was one of the schools we found while searching for India’s Top Special School for Special Kids, 2023. We met with Mrs Dipti Sanjay Gandhi, the foundation’s founder, managing trustee, and CEO, and she gave The Education View an overview of the foundation’s history, her personal experience to it, and its future goals.
Dive in to discover detailed information about the foundation.
The Saga Story
Under the guidance and leadership of its Founder and Director Mrs. Dipti Gandhi, who encouraged a new lease of life for children with a variety of disabilities, the Muskan Foundation was founded in 2007. She stumbled found a sizable community of kids who had vision impairment and other disabilities but they weren’t receiving the proper medical care.
There aren’t many resources and programmes available for kids with various disabilities. Being involved in the subject of numerous impairments makes Muskan one of the few NGOs in existence.
Muskan strives to offer comprehensive services and a one-stop shop to children with numerous disabilities in order to support their ability to live a joyful, self-assured, and independent life. Muskan offers therapies and special education. The therapies are speech enhancement, occupational therapy, visual rehabilitation, and physiotherapy. The Muskan Association for Parents and Professionals was also founded by Muskan to support and inform the parents of children with multiple disabilities.
At the past 15 years, the lives of more than 1,247 children and their families have already been impacted by the Muskan Foundation through its facilities in Bandra, Goregaon, Masina Hospital, Wadia Hospital, and MGM Hospital Panvel. Currently, it provide care to 266 kids using a variety of strategies to make its unique kids’ and their families’ lives happier. There are currently five facilities under the Muskan Foundation’s umbrella, and a sixth is being planned.
An Inspiring Leader
The company’s creator Dipti Gandhi is a highly respected low vision consultant, master trainer, and mentor for India’s handicap industry who has received training from the WHO. She didn’t have the resources or the space to host the programmes until she founded Muskan. All that was present was the desire to help children with various problems in the most comprehensive way possible.
A Statement of Objectives
While stating the vision of the foundation, Mrs Dipti asserts, “Children with Multiple Disabilities with Vision Impairment (MDVI) participate and are recognizes in their families and communities, and realize their unique abilities in life.”
Further she notes the mission of the foundation, and says, “Muskan maximises the potential of children with MDVI, by providing customized, low-cost therapies and special education under one roof and by empowering parents with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to support their child’s unique needs and development.”
After stating the vision and mission, Mrs Dipti highlights the core values of the foundation and states, “Professionals at Muskan apply additional support to provide for a relevant and tailored curriculum within the context of completely inclusive and natural environments in order to accomplish learning results for young children with multiple disabilities. Because young children with major multiple disabilities have so many different combinations of physical, medical, educational, and social-emotional issues, it is important to provide each kid a choice of approaches. The children’s capacity development and, whenever feasible, their integration into the regular school are the Muskan Foundation’s key priorities. By using adaptive strategies, they increase the child’s capacity so that they can become fully integrated into the classroom and function to the best of their abilities.”
Growth Potential with Multiple Layers
Young children with multiple disabilities have unique needs and challenges. Many of these young infants find it difficult to communicate their wants and requirements, move around freely, interact with their environment, and comprehend abstract ideas. The extensive effect on the child’s development is likely to have an effect on both the child and the family well after the early childhood years. For families with MDVI children in Mumbai, Muskan offers a multi-level development programme.
Overcoming the Challenges
Despite the Muskan Foundation organizing multiple events to raise awareness of Universal Disability IDs (UDIDs), parents are still in the process of getting them. It is difficult for them to obtain the cards because of all the challenges they face. The child’s careers claimed that they are unable to take the child long distances. Two adults are required to finish all the formalities. Because neither parent is available at the same moment, the procedure is delayed. They are unaware of the follow-up procedure.
The constraints of leased space prevent innovation that requires modifying the infrastructure. Because not all environments are designed to include kids with disabilities. Some construction alterations are required to make the area accessible and inclusive. In a rented location, it might be challenging to make long-term improvements.
Assistance and Empowerment of Parents
Parents are crucial participants in the life of the child and can foster a loving environment at home for kids with MDVI to enable them to reach their full potential. By providing parents with the skills and knowledge necessary to care for their children through expert lectures and engaging activities, Muskan enables parents to support their children.
- Facilitating families in acquiring a Disability Certificate and connecting them to government programmes and concessions;
- Enabling parents continuous counselling and other forms of social and emotional assistance.
Approaches to Career Guidance
Prevocational activities are a part of Muskan’s Special Education Program for students over the age of 14. Trade skills including cooking sprouts, chai masala, sandwiches, and salads are taught to kids. Additionally, they pick up other soft skills like greeting others.
In order to assist students in transferring to other NGO’s programmes after completing their studies at Muskan’s MDVI centres, those organisations and Muskan also work together.
According to Strong Educator, technological advancements in special education will be centred on emerging technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. The ability of educators to customise learning has considerably increased because to technological advancements. The nature of education is changing just as quickly as the rest of the world. For educators and students, the modern period has brought along a number of brand-new issues. Due to these difficulties, educators nowadays are creating fresh methods for helping kids.
These adjustments have resulted in new and improved models of tailored support, disciplinary and pre-planning techniques, and tactics for fostering stronger bonds between teachers, students, and families for children with disabilities and special needs. A graduate degree in education with a specialisation in special education provides professionals with the tools and approaches they need to support special education students in the contemporary environment. Graduates of this programme will be able to design tailored programmes and advocate for the needs of their classes as they gain a greater grasp of the cognitive and psychosocial needs of students with mild-to-moderate learning difficulties.
To guarantee that all children are really included in the school community, schools are being challenged to assess their organisational structures, the curriculum they teach, and their pedagogical techniques. Students who actively participate in learning alongside others are regarded as members of the school community according to this inclusion principle. Every student must have access to a system that offers a high-quality education that is tailored to their particular competencies, skills, and characteristics.
Word of Wisdom
When we ask Mrs Dipti for her advice, she mentions, “Children with disabilities have the same rights to receive disability- and age-appropriate support as other children, including the freedom to voice their opinions on any topic that affects them.”