Dubai: Children of determination were virtually hosted by peers from a mainstream Dubai school for a four-day festival where they took part in sessions on arts and crafts, cooking, and wellbeing.
Students of ‘The Best Buddies Club’ at The Millennium School (TMS) Dubai, organised the ‘Buddy FestiVista’ on Zoom from June 27 to 30. The participating children were from Prerana, an initiative of the cultural wing of the Consulate General of India in Dubai that supports families who have children of determination. Also joining were children from Sharjah-based Manzil Centre that supports students with special educational needs.
TMS students Dishita Nagdev and Vivek Manoj led an art workshop, where ‘Buddies’ designed their own masks. Schoolmates Arpita Sibi and Jhanvi Deleep curated a Zumba and dance session, while fellow pupils Anagha Nair and Anika Shetty taught moves choreographed to popular Bollywood songs.
TMS students Khadijah Hashim, Rebekah Aranha and Devanshi Chatterjee showed how to prepare homemade treats such as cheesecake in a jar, pizza on crackers and smoothies. Meanwhile, their schoolmates Simran Veeraraghavan and Hima Pruthi organised a craft workshop for Buddies to create their very own origami (paper) dog and heart.
Each session concluded with a five-minute meditation. At the end of the festival, there was a surprise finale in the form of a video compilation of the four days, created by TMS student Jhanvi, as well as a video made by ‘Buddy Pairs’.
Keeping inclusion going
Dr Ayesha Hussaini, director of Manzil Centre, said: “The Buddy FestiVista was a wonderful and enriching experience for the students of Manzil. It provided them with the opportunity to meet new people and participate in fun group activities virtually, from the comfort of their homes. In addition to the students, the parents were also delighted to be a part of this initiative. We appreciate the amazing efforts of all students and teachers of The Millennium School to ensure that even during these unprecedented times, learning and inclusion never stops for the children.”
N. Mohan, who oversees Prerana, said: “The four-day collaborative event of Prerana, Manzil and The Millennium School, Dubai, as part of the ongoing ‘Best Buddies Programme’ – which has been conducted over a decade now with Prerana – was a real demonstration of inclusion. The activities were very systematically planned and conducted with due patience.”
Pandemic no barrier
TMS student Mythri Muralikannan, who is president of Best Buddies, said: “We set out to put a smile on the faces of our buddies and it was heart-warming to see that happen. I am looking forward to all the other activities the TMS Best Buddies Club has planned for this year.”
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TMS principal Ambika Gulati said: “Empathy, inclusion, emotional intelligence and well-being – if one event brought all these nurturing elements together, then it was the 2021 edition of Buddy FestiVista. Our TMS students showed us that no pandemic can curb their desire to support, entertain and encourage their Best Buddies. Our friends from Prerana and Manzil showed us that the challenges faced by people of determination are conquered through enthusiasm to participate, to create, to perform.”