Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan to launch Mindscapes, a Coffee Table Book on Art by Children with Special Needs.


Hyderabad: Governor of Telangana Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan to launch Mindscapes, a Coffee Table Book on Art by Children with Special Needs. Inspired by the Meraki a Talent show in which children from all over the country participated. The book contains art works, essays and poems by special children from all over the world.


It could probably be the only book in the world that explores heartfelt stories of special children expressed in myriad ways by themselves


It is brought out by Margika Foundation, a Hyderabad and US-based NGO. It is founded by Neena Rao, a Maharashtrian who is married to a Telugu man and lives in India and the USA is a mother of a boy with Aspergers(a developmental disorder affecting the ability to effectively socialise and communicate). He inspired her to give up her career as an academic and development professional to create Margika – a Network for Training & Capacity Building for Better Care of Children with Special Needs.


Art and creativity are patent healing tools for special needs children, says Dr Neena Rao.


The highest spiritual leader and former head of state of Tibet the Dalai Lama wrote a Foreward to the book. Children with special needs are often talented and intelligent in every specific way. The book Mindspaces by Dr Neena Rao celebrates the insights and artistic skills and heartfelt stories of such children, His Holiness The Dalai Lama wrote in the foreword.


Art is a powerful tool in healing and growth, writes Dr MatcheriKeshavan, at Harvard Medical School in another foreword. Besides the Foreward, he also wrote an article ‘How does the brain make art?’.


Dr Shashi Tharoor, MP; Aamir khan, Actor; Ms Shanta Sinha, Former Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and several other highly accomplished and distinguished personnel have given their testimonies to the book.


The 250 pages hardbound book printed at Pragati Press in Hyderabad features a treasure of art pieces and other talents by children with special needs and the world will get to hear these stories in their voices. Along with every art piece, there are verses regarding the child’s feelings about the work they have created or how they feel about that particular talent. The majority of these children are from rural government schools and thus, belong to the most socially and economically disadvantaged group of society.


This book, Mindscapes, explores the honest, heartfelt stories of children and young adults with special needs, through a sincere expression of ideas. And entries include a variety of artistic mediums; poetry, paintings, sketches, stories etc. Mindscapes provide individuals with special needs a showcase of their hidden potential, helping them to connect with professional artists in the mainstream and pursue their artistic endeavours.


One poem by Ms Afroze Fatima as follows touches every heart


When there was a lack of colours

I painted with my soul…….


This is a rare platform, a platform for special children and young adults, which I strongly believe will improve these children’s faith in their capabilities, and generate joy amongst themselves and their families. The objective is to offer help, guide, and encourage them in the long run, adding more meaning to the cause that Margika believes in, says Dr Neena Rao, an NRI, CEO and Founder of Magarika, an India and USA-based NGO for children with Special Needs, believes in looking at individual identities for their personalities, traits, talents, and strengths.


The print run of the book is 5000. It costs Rs 2950/-. The proceeds of the book will go towards the training of autistic related subjects.


The aim of organizing Meraki for children with special needs and creating a Coffee Table Book was to create a safe space that is:

a) free from judgement,

b) where they are respected and celebrated for being themselves

c)And the world gets to hear these children’s stories in their voices


Margika works towards mental health awareness, inclusive education, and other services directed toward ‘special-needs children. Margika works towards creating an environment of multi-pronged care for those with mental and developmental disorders in India. To transform the lives of those afflicted – from one of simply surviving, to leading lives to their full potential, and thriving! Her mission is to bring cutting-edge knowledge and practices from all over the world into India and thereby contribute to transforming the lives of those afflicted with mental and developmental disorders. Neena Rao was recently conferred the ‘Top 100 Healthcare Leaders’ award by IFAH – International Forum for Advancement in Healthcare.


Dr Neena is the author of several books.


The book is the outcome of an initiative called Meraki, a virtual talent show of special needs children rolled out during the Pandemic by Margika. Meraki is a Greek word for something done with creativity, effort and a lot of love to reveal the essence. It had received an overwhelming response. During Covid first wave Margika reached out to 8000 parents of children with special needs from the poorest strata of India through mobile phones. The Talent shows by Margika engaging with special children from India, North America, and Europe are a product of this Mobile Phone Outreach Intervention.


On witnessing their talent, we were inspired to compile their creative, expressive contributions into this coffee table book under the title “Mindscapes”. This book offers a window into the world of these children. We hope that this compilation will help alter how we perceive individuals with special needs and their world and appreciate the strength and love that the families constantly exhibit while supporting their loved ones, shared Dr Neena.