Mangaluru: The Guiding Stars! Blind and Deaf Kids enjoy ‘Treasure Hunt’ Ride by Round Table 190 and Credai

Mangaluru: “Mercedes Sundaram Guiding Stars 2016”- a 4-wheel treasure hunt for specially-abled children was flagged off at Mercedes Showroom-Mary Hill here by the Chief Guest M Chandra Sekhar – Mangaluru City Police Commissioner along with DB Mehta-President of CREDAI, Colin Pinto-Chairman of Mangalore Coastal Round Table 190, Nishanth Shet- Vice Chairman, Round Table India Area 13 and other VIPs on Sunday, January 31st 2016 at 9:00 am. This is the sixth consecutive year that this event is being organized, but this year’s event is being jointly organized by Mangalore Coastal Round Table 190 in association with CREDAI, Mangalore. With the presence and support of the citizens showed up at this event helped make it a successful project and enhanced its mission to champion the cause of specially-abled people. 35 special children from Roman and Catherine School for Blind, and 14 deaf children from SDM Mangala Institute of Integrated Learning took part in this event.

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If public participation and awareness of a cause were anything to go by, “Mercedes Sundaram Guiding Stars 2016” was a remarkably meaningful way to show that the citizens care for the special children, and off course, the day belonged to them. ‘I don’t see, but I can Lead; I don’t speak, but I can Guide’ was the feeling within each special child. Every participant too felt that the experience was enriching – a spirit of competitiveness mixed with the flavor of true inclusivity. It was hard to believe, where a visually impaired child could guide the driver with the clues readable only by them, provided in Braille. These blind children so enthusiastic, were brimming with laughter and joy as they were getting ready to go for a joy ride along with the drivers sat behind the wheels of Mercedes, BMWs, Audi’s, Pajero’s, Toyotas, Suzukis and many other makes.

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‘Blind guide the sighted’- can this be true? During ‘Guiding Stars’, a 4-wheeler treasure hunt, Mangalore Coastal Round Table 190 made this a reality. Once every year, for the past 5 years, MCRT 190 together with the Roman and Catherine School for the Blind, Mangaluru and this year deaf children from SDM Mangala Institute of Integrated Learning have challenged kids for a fun filled joyride. “I cannot see, I cannot speak but I will guide you on your path’- Can this be true? During ‘Guiding Stars’, a 4-wheeler treasure hunt, Specially-abled children who are not fortunate enough to have the gift of sight, speech or hearing – from the Roman & Catherine School for the Blind, and SDM Mangala Jyothi Integrated School, Vamanjoor – turned into navigators to guide drivers to their destinations. How do they do it? “

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The route for Guiding Stars is scripted in Braille – a language that the visually challenged use to read and through ‘Charade clues’ for children who are hearing and speech challenged. Braille consists of a series of dots or indents made on thick paper. To a sighted person this will look like a set of random indents, but when those who understand braille run their fingers over these dots, they are able to read out the message represented therein. Each letter of the Alphabet and each numeral has a specific representation. This is how a visually challenged child can tell the sighted driver where to go. Charade clues will lead to ‘Charade-Kiosks’ that will have been setup at various points along the treasure path. At these kiosks, speech challenged children will perform some form of charade to decode the clue. The participants will have to decipher the answer from the actions of the children and fill out the clue.

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Children who were not fortunate enough to have the gift of sight or hearing turned into navigators to guide sighted drivers. During the event, each visually/deaf challenged child was assigned to a participating car. Their task was to guide or navigate their car from start to finish. Each child was then rewarded for their participation and they were the true stars of the day. The car that solves the maximum clues in the optimum time was the winner. The entire day was an enjoyable one for the blind children. There were quiet a few kiosks set up during the route, where the children had to answer a few queries posed to them by the organizers. Speaking to mangalorean.com – Rajith Madankollan, Team Manager at Mercedes Benz showroom said it was a pleasure for the entire team to be associated with the event and also looked forward to join Round Table 190 in their future projects.

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The end point also held a lot of excitement with the children of Mannagudda Govt. Higher Primary school playing melodies that they are learning as part of the Music Training program a project also sponsored and executed by Round Table. Every participating team was given a framed photograph of their flag-off memento for their participation. The winners in this event were-Winners of the event-Braille Format-First Place: Rahul Bhandary and team with navigator (visually challenged) Gaurav; and Runners Up: Sreejith BS and team with navigator (visually challenged) Rakshith. In Kiosk Format-First Place: Deepak Ramani and team with navigators (speech and hearing challenged) Abhishek and Gagan; and Runners Up: Meraj and team with navigators (speech and hearing challenged) Mohammed Asik and Sujith. Yatish Baikampady and Isaac Vas had supported the event by designing the route for the treasure hunt as in all the previous years.

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Prior to the flag off of the event, a formal function was held at the Mercedes showroom, where Colin Pinto-Chairman of Mangalore Coastal Round Table 190 welcomed the gathering, and further described the impact and awareness that this event was having on the community. The event was inaugurated by lighting the traditional lamp by the chief guest- M Chandra Sekhar – Mangaluru City Police Commissioner along with DB Mehta-President of Credai and Colin Pinto. While addressing the gathering Chandra Sekhar congratulated the Mangalore Coastal Round table 190 for their contribution in the field of free public education. He further went on to say how life is lived not for oneself, but for others. “If you live for others, chances are that you will live slightly longer than others. Immortality is being remembered for a long time. There have been many great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and others who sacrificed and lived for others. Similarly members of Round table 190 are doing a yeomen service by contributing tremendously towards these special children” added Chandra Sekhar.

Neil Rodrigues, Press and publicity convenor, MCRT190 made a presentation to the gathering about the total of 17 lakh Rs worth of investment that was directed towards a government school that MCRT 190 has adopted – The Govt. Higher Primary School, Mannagudda, Mangalore. He explained the infrastructure improvements like the science lab and the audio-visual room and also the recent developments like the computer lab and music teaching. During the past five years, a large number of Mangaloreans and local businesses have provided financial support for this event. This has helped MCRT 190 with many charitable projects including those for special children. These include JAWS software that helps the challenged children with computer usage and braille books to enhance their learning, added Neil.

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D B Mehta, president of CREDAI, Mangalore expressed his pleasure at having partnered with the Round Table and mentioned the recent projects of Round Table that have been jointly executed and achieved great success. Shweta Rasquinha and her team of MSW and MSC (Psychology) students were also felicitated on the occasion for their commitment to Round Table’s healthcare projects. Ashish Palanna and team were felicitated for the success of the music learning Round Table project through their NGO ‘Music for Change’. Isaac Vas who had supported the event by designing the route for the treasure hunt briefed the participants about the route and rules. There was no participation fee for either the children or the public. Jairaj M Shetty of MCRT 190 delivered the vote of thanks. The event was professionally compered by Sabitha Rebello.

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In conclusion, You See! They Navigate! – the Guiding Stars 2016 Treasure Hunt was a unique treasure hunt which involved the visually challenged, who collaborated with participants from the public: A team was formed by a licensed driver of a car and a visually challenged navigator; The clues and map were provided only in Braille – the script used by visually challenged people to read and write; The team which solved the maximum clues in the optimum time by visiting all the designated spots was judged the winner; The treasure hunt challenged the participant driver’s skills to meet the objective within the stipulated time, speed and distance criteria the navigator’s skill to read and understand Braille content effectively; It promoted close coordination between the driver and the navigator to correctly interpret the route using the directions provided in Braille; and it also promoted an environment of inclusivity and openness where people overcome their inhibitions and communicate across natural barriers.

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About the Event: You Drive. They Navigate!

Guiding Stars Treasure Hunt was a unique treasure hunt involving specially-abled children, who collaborated with participants from the public.

– A team was formed by a licensed driver of a car and a special child as a navigator (The special child was either visually or speech and hearing challenged)
– The clues and map were provided in Braille – the script used by visually challenged people to read and write or through ‘Charade Kiosks’
– The team was challenged to go through all points on the designated route map and answer all questions on the provided questionnaire.
– Some of the clues were lead to designated “Charade-kiosks” along the route map. At these kiosks, speech and hearing challenged children serving as navigators performed actions that had to be deciphered to identify the answer.
– The team that solves the maximum clues in the optimum time by visiting all the designated spots and kiosks, while picking maximum number of treasures was judged the winner.
– The treasure hunt challenged the participant driver’s skills to meet the objective within the stipulated time, speed and distance criteria; the navigator’s skill to read and understand Braille / Charade clues and effectively; the participants’ skills to understand and communicate with their specially abled navigators and answer the questions correctly.
– By promoting close coordination between the driver, the visually challenged / speech and hearing impaired navigators and challenged them to jointly interpret the clues along the route, and this event promoted inclusivity and openness where people overcame their inhibitions and communicate across natural barriers.

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