Being a parent of a child with disabilities my perspective on life has changed dramatically. I have a child who struggles, but at the end of each challenge is new learning. His positivity, perseverance and grit inspires all of us and pushes us to appreciate and celebrate all victories, however big or small, and this has brought us a lot of happiness. During the pandemic, when all of us have struggled to accept this new normal, Yuvi has surprised us by adjusting to it more seamlessly than the rest of us. He has found ways of creating experiences that allow him to stay connected with his friends and family and not only cope, but thrive in our current reality.
In 2001, when Yuvraj was barely two years old, he was diagnosed with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, global delays and mental retardation. Our family was devastated, but we refused to give up and quickly resolved to try and do all that is possible, even if it meant making only an iota of a difference to our son’s life. Having heard about modern-day therapies and the hope that it holds, we decided to move to the U.S. to provide our son with expert therapeutic intervention. During this time, we were fortunate to have met and worked with a team of dedicated and caring experts that helped change our son’s life. Seeing his dramatic progress over nine years, our team of therapists believed that moving Yuvraj back to India and reuniting him with his extended family would provide him with an ideal platform for continuous and varied opportunities for interaction which would help tremendously in developing his emotional and social skills.
As we returned to India in 2009, I was aware of the fact that there was much room for improvement in the field of special education and related services in our country. However, after visiting some of the most well-known special education establishments in Mumbai, I was disappointed to learn that the gap between the services available here and the establishments we had worked with in the U.S., in terms of the quality of expertise, infrastructure and attitudes, was just so huge! This is when we felt that there was a desperate need for change in the special education and related services field in India, and this need inspired our family to take up the responsibility of establishing The Gateway School of Mumbai. My in-laws – Yuvraj’s doting grandparents – with their invaluable contribution and support have set up the Keshavlal V. Bodani Education Foundation, to reach out to and support other children with needs by providing them with the same quality special education and therapeutic services in Mumbai, that their grandson Yuvraj was so fortunate to receive in the U.S.
At Gateway-Mumbai, teaching begins with observation. Focus is always placed on a child’s strengths, and individualized educational plans are approached from the point of view of what a child can do rather than what they can’t do. Learning programs are used in a way that fit tasks to the strengths and needs of the child rather than trying to fit the child to the task itself. Furthermore, we have successfully created an environment characterized by trust and respect – one that reflects great faith in each child’s capabilities. We have been mindful in creating a physical environment that functions as a teacher in itself and is highly conducive to students’ learning and development.
We hope that Gateway is an extension of a child’s home. We emphasize the parent-school partnership and work closely with each family to help our students reach their full potential.