Chief Minister Inaugurates Sophia Computer Centre for Mentally Challenged Children

BANGALORE, INDIA, July 12, 2000 — Sophia Opportunity School announced the opening of their Computer Centre, today. Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr. S M Krishna, inaugurated the Centre, at a function organized by the School. Microsoft has provided aid towards the construction and setting up of the Centre. Mr. Ashutosh Vaidya, Director Business Development, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. was also present on the occasion. The Sophia Opportunity School also launched its website, .

Sophia Opportunity School has been running a program for mentally challenged children. In the pilot program in which computers were used to train these children they observed a tremendous improvement in response if the child was introduced to interactive multimedia for learning. Their endeavor is to introduce this kind of an education, for the 0-3 years age group, at the Infant Stimulation Centre. The institution believes that early intervention could lead to better prognosis, thus increasing the chances of correction.

Sister Naina, Principal, Sophia Opportunity School said,
“Developmental delays can be reversed by providing the brain with the right information and experiences. Now that we have the support from a Corporate Leader like Microsoft, Sophia School has been able to initiate and rollout an intensive intervention plan for the 0-3 years age group. The focus would be on providing computer based multi-sensory training to children. This would involve intensive computer based education for the special children. Our view is that this would help these children integrate better with the society at large.”

Microsoft has been actively contributing towards community development projects in India. In the last one year there have been four large projects funded by Microsoft. Continuing the endeavor, Microsoft funded all the computers, Multimedia Software the room set-up, and other computer peripherals in the large lab that has been set up at the Sophia Opportunity School. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ashutosh Vaidya, Director, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd., said,
“It is very encouraging to note that IT usage has therapeutic effects on these special children. We are delighted to be able to help the Sophia Opportunity School in this deserving cause.”

This brain training method, was started by Dr. Michelle Macalpine, Ph. D, Developmental Neuroscientist, and based in Texas, USA, with whom the school has been consulting on the methodologies and props that could be used for the training. Various novel equipments have been placed in the Infant Stimulation Centre, like a ball pit, a mirror room with mirrors all around to give the child a sense of self, a maze-like tent to incite exploration urges, Dorling Kindersley Books, to stimulate the sense of touch and smell, Warm water pool for increasing motor development, through Hydrotherapy. The Infant Stimulation Centre will also have a distinguished panel of specialists, from Manipal Hospital, who will monitor the progress of these students, on a weekly basis. This panel would include specialists like Physiotherapists, Neurologists, Occupational Therapists, Dieticians, Pediatricians, Audiometrist, and Ophthalmologist.

The idea is to flood these infants with a variety of sensory stimulations that in turn will stimulate the brain cells for development. The already damaged cells cannot be repaired but the other brain cells can be stimulated and strengthened enough to take on the work of the damaged ones. Brain development/growth takes place during the first three years of life and studies have shown that these infants with timely intervention can be corrected to reach near to normal intellectual functioning. Computer based education has a much longer lasting impact on children with development deficiencies than any other means of instruction, and therefore this would be a step towards boosting their cognitive development.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

About Sophia Opportunity School

Sophia Opportunity School was started on 2 nd February 1972 with a view of helping the mentally challenged children. The pioneering initiative was taken by Sister Patricia Gannon and Sister Mary Joelle, and is carried on by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

The Opportunity School in Bangalore began in a small way with just four students in one of the rooms, then available. As the number of students started increasing classes were conducted in the basement of the old building. Gradually the school built up a reputation of providing special education to these students, and it became necessary to build a school spacious enough and equip it with better facilities. The school building took shape with the help of a large number of generous contributions from Bangalore and other parts of the world and it was inaugurated on 8 th December 1981, the year of the disabled. At present the number of students is 150 with 18 staff members and 6 non-teaching staff.

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