In an effort to raise awareness and funds for special needs children, IMU Cares together with IMU School of Dentistry organised a webinar on understanding and embracing neurodiversity as well as a photography workshop on 4 June 2022 and 12 June 2022 respectively. Led by Dr Spoorthi and Dr Naveen from School of Dentistry, the initiative saw more than 50 participants in total attending the community engagement activities.
During the webinar Mr Prakash Ravindran, a Clinical Psychologist from Oasis Place and Ms Caleb, a mother of a special needs student had shared about neurodiversity and their unique experiences in living and raising them. The webinar that was moderated by Dr Chong Jun Ai from School of Dentistry aimed to reduce stigma on learning and thinking differences.
On 12 June 2022, we, the participants, gathered at the IMU bus stop at 8:30 am on a sunny Sunday morning for a photography workshop. Upon arrival at KL Bird Park, the participants took the chance to take a group photo. Many participants were from the School of Dentistry as were the two facilitators, Dr Naveen and Dr Spoorthi. The participants learnt about parameters in photography, aperture (the diameter of the shutter), shutter speed (the time for which the shutter remains open), ISO value (to adjust the light in the film), and the temperature of the shot.
The photography workshop reminds me of my former student, Dr Nirup Dutta, a practicing neurosurgeon in India who takes spectacular bird photographs. I have been enjoying his posts on Facebook as he brings birds to life. Birds are small fleeting creatures and challenging to photograph as they are always on the move. When I think of birds I also think of Dr Salim Ali, the birdman of India. The ability of birds to fly has long fascinated us. Some of the earliest human flight attempts mimicked those of birds and they attached bird wings to human arms.
While numerous peacocks, storks and flamingos blocked the group pathways, Dr Naveen and Dr Spoorthi talked about the importance of getting down on your knees and shooting at the same level as the bird, whenever and wherever possible. The birds in KL Bird Park were used to humans and went about their daily life oblivious of the hundreds of visitors. The big, flightless ostriches and emus were a major attraction. Bird feeding was a spectacular affair as huge collections of birds gathered around the human feeder. Most birds get along well in mixed company and serious fights are rare. Participants also tried some creative photography through mobile phone and exploring aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and temperature settings in the phone.
The time flew by as we were having fun, and the workshop ended with an enjoyable bird show. The star attractions were the birds of the parrot family. These birds can be trained to do complex tasks. The communication between the birds and their trainers is almost telepathic. During the show under the watchful eye of their trainers, the birds did acrobatics, greeted visitors, detected hidden objects, put the trash into trash cans, and participated in races among other activities.
The opportunity to contribute to a good cause, the fundraising for the special needs children at Bloomers Training House made the participants happy and feel worthwhile. It was a Sunday morning well-spent for all the participants.
Written by A/Prof Dr Pathiyil Ravi Shankar
IMU Cares would like to thank and congratulate Dr Spoorthi and Dr Naveen for the success in organising this initiative.