Sanjeevani Agri Therapy, the innovative programme launched by Kudumbashree Mission at its BUDS and BRC institutions across the state are working wonders among the mentally challenged children. As, physical, mental happiness and exercises are very much needed for the persons with disability for bringing out the inherent talents within the mentally challenged children, Kudumbashree Mission tried different models through which the children can be active, motivated and productive. Different districts came up with different initiatives for the same. Training the BRC beneficiaries in livelihood activities to generate some income was the motive behind the activities of all districts in their initiatives. All the districts practiced different activities to make the children motivated. During that time Malappuram and Thiruvananthapuram districts introduced Agri therapy in the BUDS institutions. The district initiative of Malappuram District was named as ‘Thalir’ and the district initiative of Thiruvananthapuram was named as ‘Jaiva Mukulam’.
As this programme received much acceptance from the children and the society, Kudumbashree State Mission decided to extend Agri therapy to all the BUDS institutions in 2018 and named it as “Sanjeevani”. As soon after the introduction of the programme, all the institutions came forward with enthusiasm to start Sanjeevani. All the Local Self Government Institutions provided 2 cents land for the children to cultivate vegetables. In the Sanjeevani programme, Ernakulam District made a step forward by finding one and half acre land for the children to involve in the Agri therapy. The Agri-therapy programme envisages at the mental and physical development of the individuals at BUDS and BRC through vegetable cultivation. In this project a minimum of 2 cents of land would be used for cultivation by the students. These lands can be either the school premises itself or adjoining lands used by the Joint Liability Groups (JLGs). A training session (to cover the supply of inputs) to school was done at the rate of 5000 per school. A master was assigned the duty of managing the plot, he who would visit the plot each week and guide the students. The BUDS institutions are cultivating vegetables like peas, ladies finger, spinach, brinjal, green chilli and tomato. A total of 144 schools are practicing Agri Therapy in 345 cents of land across the state.
Horticultural therapy is a time-proven practice and now it is accepted as a beneficial and effective therapeutic modality. It is widely used within a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational, and community settings. Horticultural therapy techniques are employed to assist participants to learn new skills or regain those that are lost. Horticultural therapy helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. In vocational horticultural therapy settings, people learn to work independently, problem solve, and follow directions. BUDS Schools are free and open special schools for mentally challenged children of poor families, owned and managed by the Local Self Government Institutions under the support and guidance of Kudumbashree Mission and the community structure. Whereas, BUDS Rehabilitation Centres (BRCs) are day care centres for mentally challenged persons which are intended to fill a gap in the State’s existing system for providing care to the mentally challenged that caters only to persons up to 18 years of age. BRCs are meant for those who have already undergone special education through BUDS Schools or other centres. However, centres are also open to mentally challenged children who are unable to attend schools. BRCs are meant to train and support persons with special needs for equipping them with skills that make them employable. There are 114 BRCs and 88 BUDS Schools in Kerala which make a total of 202 BUDS institutions in Kerala.