From building spaghetti bridges, to surviving a forest, Outlife’s experiential lessons are fun, and life changing
A PROJECT is being piloted near Bannerghatta National Park. It sees six autistic students trekking, jumping over low ropes, crossing Burma Bridge, playing Jenga, and even cleaning dishes. The weekend camping is actually an experiment by Hyderabad’s Outlife and city’s Snehadhara Foundation to test how ‘experiential education’ can enhance the motor, social and emotional skills of autistic children.
And Diyanat Ali, founder of this experiential learning brand, has good news: “A kid didn’t walk the rope, but he put on the harness himself. It might mean nothing to us, but for the parent of an autistic child, this is important — that his child is able to do it without any help.”
These activities are safe and well within the guidelines of Wilderness Education Association. Ali, an experiential educator himself, cites an example: “Trekking, or walking on an uneven surface, helps autistic kids to develop motor skills, and mind-body coordination.” But he adds,“Experiential education doesn’t involve only outdoor activities. It can also be done in a room. It is basically ‘learning by doing’, where the learner gets involved in an activity using all senses and emotions. They are later questioned by the facilitators to reflect on their experience, behaviour and apply the learnings to the real world.”
Ali has held summer camps for school children in Hyderabad, Vizag, Pune, and Chennai. He will hold a camp in Bengaluru in April. Outlife opened its office in the city a couple of months ago. Meanwhile, Ali has been training adults in the city — the workforce of Telstra, Merino, and Trelleborg. Here, his job is to increase their productivity, encourage teamwork, and develop leadership skills. Inside the office, he can ask you to build bridge from spaghetti and marshmallow, and even test-drive a toy car on it. And outdoors, you might need to build a raft, rappel off a cliff, or survive a night in a forest.
Though not all firms get his plan. “‘What if something happens to our managers?’ they ask (he laughs). But there might be a parallel between why somebody fears rappelling and why he fears public speaking. And if he overcomes this fear, it will give him the confidence of a lifetime,” the TEDx speaker makes his point.
Children (aged 8-13) can register for the camp at outlife.in
— Barkha Kumari