"Special needs kids can do many things," says Arpita Mohapatra, and one of the things that she helps them do is learn swimming. The Special Olympics Bharat coach trains children with special abilities in open water swimming, and her efforts have helped empower hundreds of differently-abled children. Arpita, who hails from Odisha, travels across villages to identify and help children with special needs. Now, a post on her by the Humans Of New York page during the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi has earned her thousands of fans.
The HONY post introduces us to Arpita's story before moving onto the incident that started her journey as a swimming coach for the differently-abled.
"There was a small river near our village, and my father taught me to swim while we bathed," explains Arpita in the HONY post. According to Roots Of Odisha Foundation, Arpita hails from Amaria, a little in the Balasore district of Odisha.
She goes on to say that she had to give up swimming as a teenager as she belonged to a conservative village, but took it up again when she moved to a bigger city in her twenties.
She also explains how an autistic boy at the public pool where she worked as an instructor led her on her journey to becoming a Special Olympics Bharat coach.
"During my lessons, I kept noticing an autistic boy who would stand along the edge and watch. Nobody wanted to teach him. The male coaches were afraid of being bitten and scratched. But I could tell that he was so curious, so I began to play with him," she says.
"It took a long time-but slowly he learned how to swim."
She adds that the experience gave her a "weakness for kids with disabilities."
"I've taught over two hundred so far. There is no government support. Nobody comes to see these children. So I go to the villages and seek them out," says Arpita.
Read the full post below:
Since it was shared online on Thursday, the post has collected over 4,000 'shares' on Facebook alone, along with thousands of comments.
"What she is doing is more than just beautiful. She is saving lives," writes one commenter. "What a wonderful woman! We need more people like her!" says another.
According to Join The Revolution organisation, Arpita has now started the Bharati Rath Memorial Academy of Special Human Abilities to help differently-abled children through sport and physical activity.Click for more trending news