Navjivini Society for Mental Health (Regd.) was founded in 1981 to create services for training and development of Mentally Retarded Children (MRC). The Navjivini School of special Education, promoted by the Society, had a humble beginning in 1982 when it started functioning in a rented accommodation. However, presently it has an elaborate infrastructure painstakingly built over the years by a team of dedicated people with serious social concerns. Sardarni Satwant Kaur of Sular graciously donated an acre of land for the school which subsequently has been generously supported by voluntary donations and institutional support aggregating over Fifteen crore of Rupees. Blossoming of Navjivini is a tribute to the deep humanism of our society. Sardar S.P.S. Oberoi has donated generously for the construction of another six storey Sunny Tower – II, to meet the expanding needs of accommodation in the school.
As you perhaps know that 1981 is declared as ‘International Year of the Disabled’ and during the same year someone offered for some welfare activities to be started with a few acres of land along with a few lakh of rupees. By the end of March 1981, the area of mental health was selected to work for both education and preventive aspects. As a result of the undertaken initiative, ‘NAVJIVINI- The Giver of New Life’ was established on April 2, 1981. The objective was to start a special school for mentally retarded, the first and unique of its kind in the region north of Delhi. The founders raised some initial money to launch the special school. But due to the lack of awareness among people, it proved a hard time to convince the parents and other concerns as a result the starting of the special school was delayed. After so much of pros & cons, the school was finally started on 10TH of November, 1981 at ‘New Police Lines Colony on Jail Road, Patiala’, with just one special child, Mini. At present there are about 180 special students with 96 of them residing here in boarding house.
As the time rolled, people not only from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, HP but also from as far as Delhi, UP, Uttarakhand & Rajasthan brought their special children for admissions. It took more than quarter a century to convince the community that “School has an important role” to play in training and development of such children.
In 2000 again Sardarni Satwant Kaur Ji offered another acre showing her deep dedication towards the noble cause for the construction of ‘Sadhu Basant Residential care’ with the most advanced facilities which is now resident of about 40 adult mentally retarded persons.
The journey of NAVJIVINI was not so easy as it appears. It took a lot of efforts and dedication to reach upto the present. Earlier there was no hostel facility. In 1987, a private building was hired at the limits of the outer city. Later on, the hostel was moved into a semi govt building in Tripuri on the efforts of a senior IAS S. Tarlochan Singh. Again, in 1992 the hosted was shifted to ‘Working Women Hostel’ on the jail road when the then DC of Patiala Sh. S. P. Karkara favored by allotting ten rooms there.
This is a matter of great satisfaction and pride that the school has become the pioneer institute in the region. It played a key role for the welfare and development of the mentally retarded by taking a number of initiatives including organizing Special Olympic, Basant Milan, Training Center, cultural workshops and many more. The special Olympic is an effort to bring out the recreational and sporting activities of these children. The 1ST Punjab State Special Olympics were hosted by Navjivini school in the year 1998. Basant Milan has been celebrated on 14th of Feb every year in which the about fifty-sixty students from two normal schools are invited with a view to integrate the two categories of children. Cultural workshops are started to explore the additional skills and creativity of special children. It was first started in Dec 2000 at Patiala as PEHCHAN-2000 in which special schools from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh for three days.
Navjivini School has been identified and recognized by Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) for the purpose of training programmes of various levels. Navjivini School conducted three bridge courses for the teachers of special schools to update their knowledge and skill. Later, the school was recognized and designated as a study center by Bhoj Open University, Bhopal for conducting foundation courses such as diploma and related special courses. National Institute for Mentally Handicapped (NIMH) has already approved the school for conducting diploma in SpecialEducation (MR) and also provides the financial back up for the recruitment of core faculty.
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