[South Indian Churchman] The General Secretary of the Church of South India, the Revd G Dyvasirvadam, inaugurated the Triennial Sunday School Rally for special children recently, sponsored by the church's Christian Education Department. It has been a long cherished aim to hold such an event for children with various physical and mental disabilities.
Nearly 250 children with special needs attended the rally in Arogyavaram with 50 teachers. Altogether 16 dioceses were represented at the three-day event. The Rally included two important sessions: one for teachers covered Biblical portrayal of "abilities and disabilities", while a symposium helped children to learn across all categories of ability.
The Rally included sports and other competitive events, where all the children were able to take part without their disabilities ever coming in the way of their confidence and talents. Written work based on imaginary stories on "what next" and "if I were" themes also featured as part of the event, along with drawings and paintings. The spirit of participation had a real message for everyone.
The daily morning and evening devotions were each planned and led by a different group of differently abled children with seriousness and talent. A street procession was held, led by blind children holding a torch, to the final service in St Luke's church. The lesson was read by someone who was blind, and a girl who was deaf led the prayers. The service was very moving for all who took part, and many new and lasting friendships were forged during the Rally.
"The Rally ultimately left with our Church a great challenge that the disabled children also would constitute a powerful segment of our Church in the mission of God," wrote B D Prasada Rao, Director of Christian Education. "The Church must be more open to provide the space due to [these children], because they are also created in the image of God and are equally part of the present and future Church."