Palden is 27. And he has MLD – Mild Learning Disability. But a defeatist he is not. Not one bit. He is determined to outshine his peers and many others, as an athlete extraordinaire. That’s one indomitable will.
And like him, his friends at Drak-Tsho Vocational Training Center for Special Children and Youth in Thimphu are equally resolute to succeed and shine. Their hard work and strength of mind have so far been investments worthwhile.
At the Sports Meet for the Differently Abled People held in Pelling Ground in Sikkim from January 29 to 30, Drak-Tsho students brought home 16 medals – eight gold, five silver and three bronze.
Palden bagged two gold – one for 200 metres race and the other for five-a-side, one silver for shot put and another for badminton.
DargayWangdi won two gold – one for shot put and another for 200 metres race, one silver for five-a-side football and one bronze for badminton.
TashiWangmo brought home one gold for 200 metres race, one silver for shot put and one bronze for badminton.
ChimiZangmo secured one gold for 200 metre race, one silver for shot-put and one bronze for badminton.
The five-discipline meet – Five-a-side Football, Athletics, Badminton and Bocce – was organised by Sikkim Chapter of Special Olympics Bharat. The participants were mainly from Sikkim. The Bhutanese team, represented by Drak-Tsho, was invited by the orgainser.
DekiZam, the coach and mentor, who is also the deputy director of the centre, said the triumph achieved by the Drak-Tsho team is very inspiring.
“I am proud of my students. The whole centre is proud of them. They deserve a special appreciation,” she said.
Deki, who trained and guided the team in every step of preparation, said the students worked very hard.
“Everyone at the centre was actively involved. It was a joint effort. We partake of the success and accomplishment we have been able to achieve. It is a moment of pride for the centre,” said Deki.
She said such opportunities should be continually provided to the disabled children to motivate them and to help them identify their talents. Some of the participants from Drak-Tsho have never been outside the country for a competition.
“It’s a challenge to train the mentally and physically challenged children for a big competition. They tend to forget soon. One has to have tremendous patience and will to lead them,” said DekiZam. Different children have different learning abilities.
“But it is the satisfaction in the end which matters. Given time and endurance, children do learn. They have proven their ability,” she added. Teaching disabled children requires different techniques. One particularly need love and care and patience to teach them.
Deki Zam said that the main task of the centre is to be a trusted friend of the disabled children, to make them feel comfortable and not frighten them. She said failing to do this would defeat the whole purpose to teach and educate them.