It is our Mission and Vision to mainstream children with hearing loss by providing hope and empowerment to their parents and primary caregivers and co-creating an ecosystem that fosters a culture of inclusiveness.
In the fulfillment of our Mission and Vision we have identified Education, Mental Health, Knowledge Hub and Advocacy as our four key focus areas. The areas have been identified based on a deep and holistic understanding of the parents’ needs as well as the need to create a positive, inclusive eco-system for children with hearing loss.
Our Key Focus Areas
EducationTo integrate children into mainstream schools successfully
VConnect has collaborated with Dr. Mihir Parekh – Child Psychologist, Special Educator, Author – to conduct a series of workshops under the ‘Shiksha’ series. Here, where all the aspects of successful inclusion are addressed, starting from the prerequisites of mainstreaming to life skill training, vocational guidance, etc, 4 sessions have already been conducted as of end 2021, covering the following topics:
- Academic Prerequisites
- Alternate Schooling, All About NIOS
- Functional Academics & Life Skills Training
- Life Skills – Money Management & Banking
Mental HealthTo nurture the mental health of caregivers and children
VConnect has established a strong partnership with Ummeed Child Development Centre and Raviraj Shetty, Occupational Therapist and Co-Founder, Narrative Practices India for the Mental Health programme. The program is headed by Ms. Anisa Lalani, Director Mental Health along with Ms. Zoha Asad Ali and Ms. Ayesha Khan, Mental Health Coordinators and the team is supported by Ms. Vahistai J Daboo, LSLS Cert. AVT, Co-Founder and Managing Trustee VConnect Foundation. The entire team has completed their course in Mental Health Training for Parents in Narrative Practice. The Mental Health program at VConnect has two components – Parent Peer Support and Teenager Support.
Parent Peer Support
Seventeen parents are certified as mental health facilitators after completing an eight -month training program conducted in collaboration with Ummeed Child Development Center. The parents were trained in Narrative Approach which is a respectful, non-blaming approach to counselling and community work, which centres people as the experts in their own lives.
The certified VConnect Mental Health Facilitators now conduct on-going Parent Peer Support workshops to nurture the mental health of caregivers in the VConnect Community. These workshops are conducted in fun and creative ways, which empower caregivers by engaging them in co-learning simple strategies which help nurture their own and the mental health of their families. The sessions are conducted across all the VConnect circles and are offered in four different languages – English, Hindi, Gujarati, or Marathi to ensure accessibility to all.
We run support groups to support and empower teenagers and young adults to help strengthen their confidence, build better social emotional skills, and develop connections, friendships and bonds with their peers. This in turn helps develop self-advocacy skills and empowers them to achieve their full potential. These are conducted by Nupur Chowdhary, Aashi Doshi and Jehan VJ Daboo, a team of young persons with hearing loss and supported by the Mental Health Team. The support sessions are conducted in Hindi and English.
Chai Pe Charcha/ Coffee Connect
Chai Pe Charcha / Coffee Connect is an open forum and a space where families share experiences, ask questions, discuss and think together on issues they are struggling with or want guidance on. This helps build a community that feels supported and creates a safe space for recreation and peer bonding for the community.
Every VConnect member is part of a VConnect circle based on geography and is a member of the Circle chatroom. The chatroom helps parents share and learn from each other as well as pose queries that get responded to by experts.
Knowledge HubTo disseminate knowledge to caregivers and professionals for the holistic development of the child
Saath Saath Series
The SAATH SAATH SERIES focuses on helping every child realize their full potential.
Co-curricular activities are conducted by professionals in fields such as Speech & Drama, Music, Story Telling, Quilling, Art and Career Counselling to name a few. The children participate along with their caregivers, siblings and families.
Recognising the importance of music in developing the child’s listening, speaking and singing ability, VConnect Foundation in collaboration with Sound Space’ organises weekly music sessions. The sessions are conducted by Kamakshi and Vishala Khurana, the founders of Sound Space. Two sessions are held every week, one for children up to 4 years and the other is for children from 4 to 8 years.
Speech and Drama
VConnect Foundation has collaborated with Create Foundation, founded by theatre personality, Raell Padamsee, to conduct weekly on-line sessions for our children. These Children from all over India participate in these wonderfully curated sessions.
Speech and Drama is a fun way to improve children’s speech, language and confidence, enabling them to feel comfortable in speaking up, conversing, talking in public, acting, making presentations and advocating for themselves.
Educational Theme Based Activities
This initiative was spearheaded by our Programme Coordinators, during the initial lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic, when families were struggling to keep their children engaged in the confines of their homes. The success of this programme motivated us to make this an on-going series of activities for children and their families.
Every month, theme-based activities related to festivals and national holidays are posted where children’s creativity is allowed free expression along with a significant learning taking place during the course of the activity. The children’s creations and pictures of their work and activity are posted on VConnect social media platforms which motivates and encourages them to learn from each other and participate in further activities.
AdvocacyTo advocate the need for an inclusive ecosystem
Universal New Born Hearing Screening
New Born Hearing Screening leads to early detection and inclusion, which is one of the cornerstones of effective inclusion of children with hearing loss. VConnect is collaborating with different stake holders including ENT organisations, institutions, hospitals, and the government to petition and influence policy to make New Born Hearing Screening mandatory in India. Our petition template is uploaded in the Resources section.
Hamare Adhikar / Our Rights
Parents need to be made aware of their rights and the rights of the children. They need to understand various schemes, concessions in education, benefits in taxation that are being provided by the government. Hamare Adhikar / Our Rights is a webinar series that addresses various subjects such as Right to Education (RTE), Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Hearing Aids and Appliances (ADIP) Scheme, Unique Disability ID (UDID) Card, Educational Boards procedures and concessions, Income Tax and Transport benefits. The video links and relevant literature is available in the Resources section.