A first of its kind in Pune, the carefully designed garden allows visually impaired students from the Technical Training Institute of Poona Blind Men’s Association (PBMA) in Ramtekdi, Hadapsar an opportunity to ‘feel’ and understand their surroundings.
“I love sitting on the hill. The feeling of cool breeze through my hair. Exploring the dew drops on each blade of grass,” said 21-year-old Vijaymala Mangal. Vijaymala, who is partially blind, hails from Nanded and is currently training in computers at the Technical Training Institute.
“I feel like I can touch the sky whenever I look up. We take selfies on the hill and listen to the birds happily chirping during our morning and evening walks in the garden,” she said.
The garden is spread over half an acre with a round walkway and a tactile pathway to help the visually impaired students navigate. The garden also boasts two green mounds with natural climbing wedges, and a curving bridge that connects the two mounds.
“It is a public garden designed for citizens with special needs. It has been planned, designed and executed by the Poona Blind Men’s Association’s Technical Training Institute,” said J P Banerjee, honorary director, Technical Training Institute. The institution provides skill training for persons with disabilities.
“The purpose of the sensory park is to enhance and engage all the five senses of a person and provide a multisensory experience. The garden also creates a learning environment through creative zones, a place for meditation and a walking path which is beneficial for the overall health and development of a person,” added Banerjee.
“The garden is unique because people will be able to ‘feel’ the garden and explore it using their touch and other senses. The students may not be able to see, but their other senses are heightened. A walk in the garden, exploring the leaves of the various plants in the vertical garden, climbing the hill, feeling the softness of the grass and the dew at dawn, all of this will be a sensory experience for the students,” he added.
“We are working to develop the five C’s of each of our students, competence, communication, courage, confidence, character. The garden is also an exercise to develop these traits, allowing the students to explore and learn freely. They should be able to feel what a garden is like, without actually seeing it,” said Banerjee.
The garden also hosts informal gatherings encouraging small impromptu performances, provides a controlled exposure to water through various elements, like sprinklers, fountains and mist sprays, and it is also built like a mini amphitheatre, creating the perfect ambience for celebrating festivals and other important programs.
It has a small passageway created like a cave, which has raised imprints of various sculptures like those in Ajanta and Ellora, to give the students a sense of being in a cave.
Technical Training Institute of Poona Blind Men’s Association was established in 1960. The Institute is a premier Institution which imparts vocational training and rehabilitation services to the visually impaired.
The Institute is situated on a large campus at Ramtekdi, Hadapsar and has separate hostel facilities for 90 boys and 60 girls. It also boasts a 150-seater dining and a modern kitchen to cater to its student and staff.
Source: Hindustan Times