“I never thought that me and my family could plan a beautiful outing for my daughter at a Zoo,” Sunaina’s mother admitted. And yet, Sunaina joined her family and a group of children like her, with multiple disabilities and visual impairments, for a lovely and joyful experience visiting the zoo in Lucknow. For many of the children, this was their first time visiting the zoo and being given the opportunity to learn in the process.
The zoo visit was possible as a result of a joint project of Perkins India and Jayati Bharatam that gives children with multiple disabilities the chance to learn and thrive. While some children enjoyed seeing the animals, others enjoyed touching life-like replicas of wild animals — animals they have only read about in books, or seen in pictures and videos. The real life experience at the zoo proved to be much more meaningful, interesting and enjoyable for the children.
Family members accompanied their children for the visit and felt immense joy to see the cheer on their children’s faces. Siblings also happily took the chance to interact with one another, and the other children. Astha’s mother expressed, “I am feeling so happy today to see my daughter having fun. Usually she does not like to interact with new people but I saw her enjoying and playing with other kids. It’s a great memorable experience for me.”
For the children with multiple disabilities, such novel exposure to animals and experiences at the zoo have provided a rich learning experience. From sitting on swings and different rides, to playfully imitating the animals, the day was about more than a fun, new learning experience. The outing also shows that children with multiple disabilities can be included in family outings and school field trips just like any other child.