Planting seed bombs that add to the green cover

The programme by Inclusive Education for the Disabled Children is more than a message about environment

On Saturday, World Environment Day, Ahzana Farooq planted a rambutan sapling and sent photos of it to her teachers. The day before, the Class 3 student of SNV Upper Primary School, Kattuputhussery, Pallickal, in Thiruvananthapuram district made seed bombs and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Ahzana who suffers from hearing and visual impairments, besides a heart ailment, made 18 seed bombs as part of the World Environment Day celebrations organised by the Samagra Shiksha, Kerala’s Kilimanoor block resource centre (BRC).

Ansi Farook, Ahzana’s mother, says her daughter loves plants and trees and understands the purpose of seed bombs and so was very keen on making them. The feedback from her teachers made her day.

Many differently abled children find it difficult to sit still and concentrate on one thing, but when an activity such as seed-bomb making is involved, it is an entirely different matter. Finishing the activity is also a boost to their confidence.

Nearly 720 differently abled students, including those with visual impairments, under the Kilimanoor BRC have been participating in making the seed bombs since the beginning of the month with the support of a video prepared by a special educator.

Seeds are covered with a layer of compost and hidden inside small balls of earth and then dried. The idea is to get the students to plant the bombs on land surrounding their houses or scatter them in open spaces once the lockdown ends, or gift them to friends and neighbours in connection with the World Environment Day celebrations.

A shower or two later, they will be able to see the labour of their love germinate and put down roots where these were sown, thus adding to the green cover. There are other goals too—increasing biodiversity, water and soil conservation, cleaner air, thus helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. The seeds can also be preserved for long this way, sprouting when they receive some water.

Inclusive Education for the Disabled Children (IEDC) trainer Vysakh K.S. who is conducting the seed bomb programme with the help of 13 special educators, says it is more than a message about environment to these students.

It helps development of fine motor skills, overcomes tactile defensiveness, and improves eye-hand coordination and concentration in such children. As they get to see and learn about seeds and how they grow into trees and how to care for them, there is a natural increase in their environmental consciousness. Each child has been asked to make at least 10 seeds. Some have even made 50, says Mr. Vysakh.

Ansi says the family gets Ahzana to participate in various online activities designed by the BRC, as the lockdown has put a pause on meetings, classes, stage programmes, therapies, and so on that were held regularly. “We were very apprehensive initially, especially as children cannot be allowed to go outside during COVID-19, but a host of activities are organised online for the children by the BRC.”

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