In a move aimed at enhancing the lives and safety of visually impaired and physically challenged children, Kerala government has launched a pioneering project to provide swimming training to these children as a vital life-saving skill. This initiative under the banner “Beats Project” seeks to break down barriers and empower these children with the ability to navigate aquatic environments confidently.
Water-related accidents are a significant concern worldwide, and individuals with visual or physical disabilities are often at a higher risk due to their limited mobility and sensory perception. Recognising this vulnerability, the Kerala government has taken a proactive step to equip these children with a skill that can not only save lives but also boost their self-confidence and independence.
Officials said the “Beats Project” will be rolled out in the state with a dedicated team of trained swimming instructors specialising in teaching children with disabilities. The program will provide specialised swimming lessons tailored to each child’s unique needs and abilities, ensuring that they can learn at their own pace and in a safe and supportive environment.
In the first phase, training will be conducted daily from 8 am to 9 am at Nadakkavu swimming pool in Kozhikode where a 15-day training will be provided to 100 visually challenged children in high school and higher secondary classes. The government has sanctioned a total of Rs four lakh in the first phase with a goal to train 500 children in the district.
Additional training opportunities will be made available through collaboration with local self-government bodies and voluntary organisations. Children are selected for training through Budds Rehabilitation Centres (BRCs) after obtaining parental consent.
The District Sports Council in collaboration with EquiBeing, a Bengaluru-based voluntary organisation for the visually impaired, is also actively participating in the Beats project.
The Sports Council, under the guidance of EquiBeing, has provided special training to the trainers responsible for teaching swimming to differently-abled children. To ensure the safety of the children, each child will have a dedicated lifeguard. The project also provides essential services such as food for the children and transportation to and from the training center, facilitating the children’s journey to school.
“Learning to swim not only instills a sense of security but also fosters a sense of freedom and inclusion, enabling these children to participate in water-based recreational activities like their peers.Moreover, swimming offers a range of physical and mental health benefits. For physically challenged children, it can be a form of therapeutic exercise that improves strength, flexibility, and overall well-being. For visually impaired children, it enhances spatial awareness and spatial orientation, contributing to their overall cognitive development,” the officials added.