You Drive – They Navigate! Special Kids became Mangalore Round Table (MRT)-19 ‘Guiding Stars’ during Treasure Hunt
Mangaluru: United Toyota- Guiding Stars 2018’, a treasure hunt for specially-abled children was flagged off at United Toyota Showroom, Padil- Mangaluru on Sunday, February 18, 2018, at 10:00 am. by chief guest- Dr V Ravichandran-CEO of Diya Systems, Mangaluru along with D B Mehta- President of CREDAI-Mangaluru and Prabhakar Rao Aroor- Chairman of United Toyota-Mangaluru. This is the sixth consecutive year that this event is being organized, and this year’s event is being jointly organized by Mangalore Coastal Round Table 190 and CREDAI, Mangalore. Around 30 specially-abled children from Roman and Catherine School for the Blind’-Mangaluru took part in this event, as “Guiding Stars” riding along with drivers in 25 cars.
If public participation and awareness of a cause were anything to go by, “United Toyota Guiding Stars 2018” was a remarkably meaningful way to show that the citizens care for the special children, and of course, the day belonged to them. ‘I don’t see, but I can Lead’ 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 Toyotas, Mercedes, BMWs, Audi’s, Pajero’s, Suzuki’s and many other makes.
‘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 six years, MCRT 190 together with the Roman and Catherine School for the Blind, Mangaluru have challenged kids for a fun-filled joyride. “I cannot see, 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 from the Roman & Catherine School for the Blind, turned into navigators to guide drivers to their destinations. How do they do it? “
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 set up 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.
Children who were not fortunate enough to have the gift of sight turned into navigators to guide sighted drivers. During the event, each visually 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 half day was an enjoyable one for the blind children. There were quite 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 Team Mangalorean, a showroom manager at United Toyota said that it was a pleasure for the entire team to be associated with the event and also looked forward to joining Round Table 190 in their future projects.
The programme began with a prayer song by Special Child, Vishal followed by welcome address by Sudeesh Karunakaran-the Chairman of MRT-190. Neil Rodrigues, convenor, MCRT190 made a presentation to the gathering about the activities of MRT. 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 at a few govt schools. During the past six 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.
Neil further describing the treasure hunt by the special children said, “How do they do it? The route for Guiding Stars is scripted in Braille – a language that the visually challenged use to read. 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. Yatish Baikampady and Issac Vas (The route map is provided by the ‘Baikampady Vidyarthi Sangha’) have supported the event by designing the route for the treasure hunt just as in all the previous years “.
Addressing the audience chief guest Dr Ravichandran said, “I have been associated with Roman and Catherine School for the Blind for nearly 15 years, and have donated quite a few computers to that school. I compliment MRT for organizing events like these which will bring joy and smiles on the faces of these special children. I spend more time of my life by contributing to the society-nearly 60% of my income goes towards charity. And when I give I also tell people that I gave, not that I want publicity, but to bring awareness in other people so that they also should follow in my footsteps to give and share, which is the best quality in a human being. I promise that I will support MRT in their future community projects aimed at a good cause”.
D B Mehta, president of CREDAI, Mangalore expressed his pleasure at having partnered with MRT and mentioned the recent projects of Round Table that have been jointly executed and achieved great success. He congratulated MRT190 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 Roundtable 190 are doing a yeomen service by contributing tremendously towards these special children,” added Mehta.
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. The event was professionally compered by Disha Prabhu. At the end point culminated at Mahesh PU College, which is the co-sponsor of this event, the Chief Guest Ajith Kumar Malady-the president of Bunts Mathr Sangha gave away the prizes for the winners- the winning team was Sirijeeth Allan and Sunil navigated by special child, Adidthya; and the runner-up team was led by Devdas and Parimal Team navigated by special kid, Mohammed Kaif. Every participating team was given a framed photograph of their flag-off memento for their participation. Two-piece band “E-Three” comprising of Melroy Furtado on Keyboard and Rynel Sequeira on vocals entertained the crowd with their melodious tunes.
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.
ABOUT GUIDING STARS 2018: YOU DRIVE. THEY NAVIGATE!
Guiding Stars Treasure Hunt is a unique treasure hunt involving specially-abled children, who collaborate with participants from the public.
– A team is formed by a licensed driver of a car and a special child as a navigator
– The clues and map are provided in Braille – the script used by visually challenged people to read and write.
– The team is challenged to go through all points on the designated route map and answer all questions on the provided questionnaire = The team that solves the maximum clues in the optimum time by visiting all the designated spots, while picking maximum number of treasures is judged the winner
– The treasure hunt challenges: 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 clues 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 navigators and challenging them to jointly interpret the clues along the route, this event promotes inclusivity and openness where people overcome their inhibitions and communicate across natural barriers You Drive.They Navigate!