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Kite-flying as a therapy for healing and health for people with special needs
Last year, I happened to attend Makar Sakranti, the kite-flying festival in a special education school in which the normal children flew kites in the presence of children with special needs.

The music was blaring and normal children were having great fun while those with special needs were being forced to watch and being controlled by the teachers and caregivers.

However, flying a kite is not a mere carefree pastime or fun activity; it can be a therapeutic activity for health promotion too, more so for people with special needs. When kite flying is seen as a therapy, it can be helpful in developing mindfulness; getting connected to nature; physical movement and exercises; improving sensory integration, and development of social skills.

To derive therapeutic benefits from kite-flying, the interventions and activities are to be designed by a certified therapist and administered on an individual basis as therapy sessions after the needs of the clients have been assessed.

Kite-flying can develop mindfulness by stressing acute awareness of the here and now. Therapist has to keep on observing the client and draw his attention to the kite in the sky. Research in health science has shown that enhanced awareness has health benefits, such as better pain management and decreased anxiety and depression.

It has been found that being enthralled by kite-flying and watching the kite hovering in the sky brings about anatomic changes of the brain regions involved in memory, cognitive development and emotions. However, the kite-flying therapy needs to be undertaken under expert guidance as a designed intervention.

Kite-flying therapeutic intervention sessions are done as an outdoor activity keeping the expanse of sky and nuances of wind in view to spend time in nature. The restorative power of blue sky above the horizon gets exploited. Also, when a kite becomes steady, watching clouds sail across the sky may have a restorative effect.

Furthermore, kite-flying therapy session puts the client into outdoor play environment. One is always tempted to walk and run with the string of the kite in hand leading to physical exercise.

When therapeutic kite-flying is done involving the client and the caregivers as an outdoor activity, it develops psycho-social connections crucial for client's health and well-being.

It is held that the wind, Sun, sky, and Earth are the essential healing elements of the Kite Therapy. For children with special needs, one month long one-hour sessions through four to five interventions repeated for a week in the presence of the therapist can bring about a sea change in the cognition and behaviour of the child.

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