The Owl House, Aldona, a community support centre for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other neurological problems is all set to host a Diwali Mela on November 7, put together by their youngsters, reports NT BUZZ
CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
In June this year (2018), The Owl House was started in Aldona with the aim of providing a space for those suffering with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other neurological problems to grow, get support, and seek therapy.
“All children deserve a chance to feel empowered and to do something based on their strengths. The Owl House is thus a community service initiative to help those with neurological problems in this respect and to train them in professional skills, life skills and social skills,” says programme co-ordinator and clinical psychologist Renuka Figueiredo. Figueiredo is assisted by two special educators – Vivien Vaz and Deesha Patel and a counsellor Richelle Britto Carvalho.
The pretty Portuguese-styled villa in Aldona has workstations, a workshop area, an art and music therapy room, a sensory room, cafeteria and an outdoor space for horticulture therapy that consists of an edible garden.
“We have a variety of workshops which focus on different areas of skill development. For instance we have a cooking workshop where the youngsters learn how to assemble a snack for themselves to help make them more independent,” explains Figueiredo. Another activity conducted is music circles where participants can learn to build confidence, how to follow instructions, how to work as a team etc. Their dance and drama based workshops are also focused around skill development. For instance it could centre around a big shop, where they learn how to go to a shop and buy things for themselves. “Besides this we have sensory art for sensory skill development, a monthly sports day and workshops on recycled art, baking and pottery,” says Figueiredo.
Each child has an individual plan created for them which centres on their strengths, she says, adding that this initiative also gives these youngsters a chance to get together and interact with others. Indeed, they have participants coming from Porvorim and Panaji to as far as South Goa too.
Their upcoming mela on November 7 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at their premises will be a culmination of all they have learnt over the past five months. “Diwali is a time for celebration for everyone. For us, it is a celebration of all the amazing things that the kids have done with us and will be all about empowering them,” says Figueiredo. There will be stalls selling chocolate balls, paper lanterns, pre-owned clothes and jewellery among other things. “One of our kids who is pursuing art seriously will be displaying his art works, while another who loves music will be an assistant DJ at the event,” says Figueiredo. The youngsters will also be making bhel and sandwiches at the event. “The whole event has been planned and prepared by the youngsters themselves, the planning of which began about a month and a half ago. The stalls too will be manned by them together with a volunteer, to give them the complete experience of running a stall. They are all very excited,” adds Figueiredo.
(The Mela will be open to public from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Owl House, Aldona)