The New Arts Theatre in the University of Colombo was adorned with almost every colour of the rainbow on March 2, 2016. The ground beside the Theatre was set up with a bumper and games. The members of AIESEC Colombo Central were gladly awaiting the arrival of a group of very special guests that morning.
Sixty-five children from Diri Daru Piyasa in Panadura and Madiwela School for Children with Disabilities, along with their parents and teachers, arrived at the university. They hurriedly took their seats at the theatre, making sure to keep their glittery dance props well out of harm’s way. Since the moment these 65 children arrived, there wasn’t a single dull moment for the AIESECers of University of Colombo.
After enjoying a small snack and changing into the t-shirts presented to them by AIESEC, the children ran into the ground with much enthusiasm to join the carnival that was in store for them. Almost two hours had passed, and the children didn’t show any sign of fatigue or boredom. Instead, even the AIESECers who had work to attend to, seemed to have let their hair lose and joined in an intense game of cricket with the kids. Some of the children had little face paint doodles drawn on their cheeks.
Others were clinging onto the bumper while some were playing a balloon bursting game. Some children simply preferred to remain seated, talking to the organizers. The setting which would generally be crowded with undergraduates was given a little extra sparkle that day by these wonderful kids who were all diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The highlight of the day was yet to start. These children who are sometimes looked down upon for their weaknesses in their academics and some other skills, showcased talents that were beyond the ordinary. The stage was not merely dotted with the glamour of their props and shining costumes, but more with their honest smiles and a sense of enjoyment that made anyone who watched, smile along with them. They sang and danced – some songs were out of tune and some dances a little uncoordinated. However, this was a stage that imperfections were applauded and judgement was discouraged.
A few children, who were unable to walk, added more colour to the stage with their little bodies swaying to the beat on wheelchairs. One boy entertained the audience with one of the most memorable events of the day. An imitation of animal sounds. The special guests, university students, organizers and most importantly the parents and teachers of the children marvelled at the talent that was showcased before them with gratitude for the opportunity that was given to their children to showcase their talents.
This concert which was held for the third consecutive year by AIESEC Colombo Central as the conclusion event for project Beyond the Ability was aimed at creating awareness about Down syndrome and creating an accepting and appreciative platform for families who are experiencing the limitations of the disorder. As the world is finally moving towards creating an inclusive culture for children with special needs, the AIESECers of University of Colombo will continue to remain committed to make the lives of these children a better place.