x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Desert music concert will help special-needs children

A music concert in the desert aims to help raise funds for children with special needs.

DUBAI // A music concert in the desert  will help raise funds for children with special needs, an organiser has said.

Saathi, or Society for Advocacy and Awareness Towards Holistic Inclusion, said this week the proceeds of the “Rhythm in the Dunes” concert will be channelled towards projects that will provide support to parents of children with mental or physical challenges. The money will pay for early intervention and training projects.

“The funds generated will go toward getting specialists from India, the US and UK to speak to parents here about taking care of children with special needs,” said K Kumar, the vice president of Saathi.

“Speaking to specialists and experts will help parents identify behavioural issues, learn about treatments and tests that can help.”

The group was launched last year to bring together special-needs institutions, support groups and caregivers. Details about the fund raiser, which is scheduled for Thursday evening, are on the community website, www.saathidubai.org.

The organisation also aims to increase awareness in the general public and in schools.

“We want to start initiatives that will bring these children into the mainstream,” Mr Kumar said. “Through talks and programmes, we hope to raise awareness so that they are not treated as different.”

The music programme and the group’s future initiatives are open to all, regardless of nationality, he said.

Thursday’s show will open with songs by Karthik Kumar, a 14-year-old Indian student from the Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs. The teenager, who is not related to K Kumar, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of three.

Early detection would have helped those around him better understand Karthik, who never responded to his name or made eye contact as a young child, said his mother, Rajeswari Krishnamurthy.

“Most parents don’t have resources for early intervention,” she said. “Saathi can be a big help to parents if they can approach specialists and seek their help. It will allow parents to understand children who may have behavioural issues. Their lives will become so much better. The programme can help so many lives.”

She stumbled on to her son’s talent for music when he began singing songs he heard on the radio. Karthik now frequently performs on the radio or at school functions.

“He started singing even before he could talk,” Mrs Krishnamurthy said. “Later, he learnt to play the guitar. Once we taught him to use computers, he has learnt to download songs.”

The “Rhythm in the Dunes” concert will take place at 7pm on Thursday at Lama Tours Camp in Al Margham.

rtalwar@thenational.ae