Mumbai, India – A Mumbai-based program that pairs children on the autism spectrum with mainstream youngsters has provided participants with the opportunity to interact with peers, develop friendships and learn valuable social skills.
“Buddeez” was founded by Ami Mehta Kothari and Shalini N Kedia, two Mumbai residents and educators who saw a need for children with special needs in the region to be given the chance to have fun and make friends, something that many with autism find challenging. Ami asserts:
“Working with special needs children over the years made me realise that they do not have interaction with other people, except for their siblings and parents. I cannot imagine life without having friends, so I felt we needed to do something about it.”
The program itself involves high school seniors from BD Somani School volunteering for approximatley 1 hour sessions where they engage in various activities including playing board games, visiting parks or simply going to a shopping mall.
The sessions, which 4-5 of the students who have received instruction regarding the activities the special needs participant enjoys or has an aversion to, have proven to be beneficial for both parties. As a result, organizers are looking for more volunteers and are hoping to extend the Buddeez program to other regions including Bandra and Chembur.
Source:Ritika Bhandari Parekh on The Metrognome website: Being buddeez with special children