Crafts and treats from Prathibha students this Christmas

By Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna

Last Poya day, there was a special Christmas sale that took place at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla. It was the Christmas sale organised by the Prathibha Psychological Rehabilitation and Resource Centre which showcased extraordinary talents and skills of young students who are being rehabilitated there. Creative handwork including Christmas cards and decorations of the students of the Prathibha Centre were exhibited and sold at the event.

The Prathibha Psychological Rehabilitation and Resource Centre is a day rehabilitation centre based in Aggona, Kalapaluwawa Road, Rajagiriya focused on providing high-quality therapies and psychosocial rehabilitation for children and young adults with psychological and developmental disabilities. This centre currently focuses exclusively on rehabilitating, guiding, supporting, and training individuals with psychological and developmental disabilities.

They maintain a day psychosocial rehabilitation programme for young adults with autism and down syndrome at Prathibha on weekdays. This programme includes behaviour modification therapy, communication development, life and social skills training, educational therapy, pre-vocational skills training, and vocational rehabilitation. Their vocational training and support services help enhance the quality of life of each individual and open new doors. From January 2020, Prathibha is planning to start an after-school care service for boys who are autistic or have Down syndrome.

Prathibha provides individual behaviour modification and psychosocial rehabilitation therapies at Prathibha for toddlers and children with autism and down syndrome, including an early intervention programme for children of three to five years of age, school readiness programmes, behaviour modification and social skills training therapy for children and adolescents, as well as pre-vocational training for children of 10-16 years of age. These programmes include training programmes for parents, caregivers, shadows, and teachers to support in better understanding these kids and adults.

“The sale was organised by our centre. This year, we started our vocational rehabilitation programme. During the first half of the year, we gave our students prevocational skills training and during the second half, we started doing productions. “I wanted to give them vocational training because most of these young boys are not occupied with anything, they don’t work. But with assistance, they can. They too have skills, talents, and potential. We just don’t see it. If we can identify it and help them to be creative, they really can do it.

“And the third step of this process was to find a market to sell their products and include them in society. We wanted to boost our kids’ and their parents’ confidence and we wanted to motivate them. We wanted to change the perception of society. The society thinks that these kids are disabled, but they are not. They can do it.

“It wasn’t easy at first to get them to sit for long periods of time to make these crafts. And they have different skills; we try to teach them different skills. But nothing worked at first, and then I observed them for a few days to find out what they are capable of. After identifying their skills, we grouped them. “Some of them made Christmas wreaths and dreamcatchers while some of them made bookmarks and wool pom poms for key tags.

“Making cards was the most difficult task for them. Sometimes, it took them one or two days to paste five to six beads. But with continuous training, they did it. And then came the most difficult part – how to get them seated in the stall and how to train them to sell. We trained them a lot. And they did it really well. When people asked: ‘I want a card/I want a key tag’, they were able to give it. They put whatever the customer bought into a bag and gave it to the customer. The parents were really happy to see their kids working like that. My target is to help them lead an independent life in society.”

Beenuka Wickramatunge Dehideniya

Co-Founder/Head Psychologist

Prathibha Psychological Rehabilitation and Resource Centre