Disabled school children in Kolkata row in all-India school regatta to huge cheers
About 28 disabled children took part in an-India school regatta in Kolkata. They drew loud cheers as they went on the water, just three days after they touched the oars for the first time.
The event was the 46th KC Mahindra All India Inter-school Regatta, and it was held at the city's famous Lake Club.
The children, which included boys and girls, were from Manovikas Kendra, which is a school for children with special needs.
They were excited as they were led to the ergometers or indoor rowing machines during the indoor phase of the event.
The races for children with special needs indoors so they could prepare in a safe environment. The children had practised on two rowing machines provided by a local NGO, Bengal Watersports. The plan is to gradually switch them to boats so they can prepare for the Paralympic Games.
At the event, the children from schools in the open category acted as the mentors of the disabled kids. They helped them position themselves on the machines, fasten their feet on the footplates, and urged them to push harder as they updated them on their positions.
This was the first time that children from Manovikas Kendra were getting to compete with children from so many schools.
The winner in the girls' race was Aayushi Banerjee.
Teachers at Manovikas Kendra said there were long queues of children eager to qualify for the competition.
Many of them said they loved rowing and would continue to practise.