Harshavardhan (14) is a special child. Born with a speech disorder, he grew up to be a teenager unable to express himself. The inability to communicate also affected his mental development. Even as he was doomed to a life of silence and incoherence, a unique programme at the Bangalore University has offered special children like Harshavardhan a ray of hope.
Called the Ecotherapy Programme, conducted by Bangalore Environment Trust (BET) and Government Ayurveda College, through a green agenda for special children at Charakavana, a bio park, it has brought about visible changes in Harshavardhan who has been attending the program. He’s now beginning to respond to others and is slowly but surely expressing his thoughts in words.
The teenager, a native of Mysuru, is a student of a special school run by Gerizim Rehabilitation Trust (GRT) in Ejipura. Harshavardan has a widowed mother who works as domestic help and a 17-year old brother, Punith, who is also speech impaired. When GRT offered to take care of Harshavardhan, his mother was only too happy.
Punith too loves visiting Charakavana in BU whenever he comes to see his brother along with his mother. “It makes him feel happy,” says his mother. At Charakavana the boys play with friends and can be seen communicating with them. It is for this purpose that children with special needs are encouraged to spend time at Charakavana.
Established on 12 acres of landscaped area, Charakavana is home to around 500 medicinal and herbal plants, which help special children, thrive in the natural milieu.
The bio park has 50 ganas (groups); each group has 10 plants resulting in a healthy flourishing ecosystem.
“There is an abundant release of trust molecules, oxytocin, in Charakavana,”saysYellappa Reddy, noted environmentalist and the brain behind the bio-park. “It is associated with a feeling of mutual trust. When special children are confined to the four walls, they are unable to explore their environment. An open space enriched with rich medicinal plants makes them feel good and heals their disorders.” He adds, “Through Ecotherapy, we connect special children to the divine creations of life forms in Charakavana.” Charaka was one of the greatest physicians who advanced the science of Ayurveda (holistic science).
The two-year-old programme sees children from five special schools brought to the park on the third Saturday of every month. They come in by BMTC buses and Iskcon provides them with healthy meals. The children enjoy the park — from 9 am to 3 pm — and can even be seen playing a game of cricket. “They also indulge in other activities like drawing and yoga, which helps them connect with nature in its natural form.”
The impact of Ecotheraphy on special children was studied from April 2014 to March 2015. According to the study, there’s been 40 per cent improvement in the children. “They exhibited progress in memory span, plant identification, colour identification and speech,” says Prof Renuka Prasad, co-ordinator of the bio-park. “This is an endorsement of the prescriptions of great physicians. Our experience shows that children’s quest for joy is triggered by connecting with pure life forms. Much like what great physicians Athreya, Bhardwaja, Charaka, and Sushrutha said.” Prasad further adds, “The purpose of Ecotherapy is to help create a landscape which offers invisible services to lubricate neurons that help mitigate neurosis (mental illness) and unreasonable fears. Ecotherapy can help children and people with mental problems. It has been proved that green exercises boost your state of mind. Many doctors have described outdoor activities and a walk in a natural landscape as an effective alternative to a chemical anti-depression treatment. A prescription of care-taking in bio, geo or hydro settings has been proved highly successful.”
Bio-rhythms that build mystic relationships
Yellappa Reddy, Environmentalist and the brain behind Charakavana.
“There are rhythms of bio- geo- and hydro-organic life-form structures that build mystic relationships in the Charakavana landscape. These are visually, audibly, and spiritually pleasing because of earth-generated ambrosia and aroma. Each gana (group) will have a distinct ambrosia and aroma. The herbal settings of Charakavana and their ganas generate specific envio-chemical biological vitality from reactable bio settings through their organic progression of life forms. By building the appropriate vegetation in ganas and bio-park, the landscape generates vibrating bio-dynamic elements such as enzymes, pheromones, aromas, volatile oils, and absorbable form of trace elements such as selenium, strontium, copper, nickel, cobalt, zinc, gold and silver.
These are essential for maintaining the chemical balance in the human body and mind. The Charakavana possesses all attributes of essential life forces, which include micro-organism, micro, mega and macro animals. They generate a bio-argo soup called ambrosia. This soup is a fruit of rare unique convergence of compounds free from toxic chemicals. This will function as a catalyst to stimulate the spiritual mind through creative unity of life forces of co-existence because the DNA structure of life forms remains more or less the same. When children are surrounded by such an environment, it helps in their mental rejuvenation.”