Two new staff have joined us on the administration front – Delia Kwong and Tan Seng Chin.
As for teaching staff, 3 others have joined us: Noorazah – in the Early Intervention Programme (EIP), and Teoh Leong Beng in the Young Adults Programme (YAP). The third teacher comes to us under special circumstances. Mr Akira Shiota is a Senior JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Volunteer under the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) programme, with the approval of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department (Malaysia), and he will be attached to Wings Melaka for nearly two years. Noorazah comes from a banking and ICT background but was motivated to join Wings Melaka after helping a nephew who has ASD. Leong Beng is a trained psychiatric nurse and has a wealth of experience (including 18 years in the UK) in rehabilitation programmes for clients with emotional and behavioral disorders. He has taken on the challenge to help us in the YAP, working with young adults with Down Syndrome and ASD. Mr Shiota has expertise handling adolescents with ASD, having taught for many years in a Japanese High School for Special Needs Education.
We continue to focus on the 3 main phases of our work – the EIP (27 students), SAP (12students) and YAP (4 young adults). Inquiries about the programmes at Wings Melaka continue to come in, and there is still a wait-list for assessment and enrollment in the EIP because of insufficient staff.
We are deeply touched by the generosity of our donors, some of whom have chosen to remain anonymous. But we are aware that many of you have only come to know about us through our website or through GlobalGiving, and yet have chosen to support our work. I would like on behalf of the Board and Staff of Wings Melaka, to express my gratitude and appreciation for your invaluable partnership and support.
Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Malaysia:
Children’s laughter, coloring time, puzzles, math worksheets, and outside exercise… the activities, sights, and sounds of school.
April 20 I visited Wings Melaka, but this “school” was different - this is a Center for Developmental Disabilities. The youth at this center are special needs, and the “teachers” and staff are dedicated professionals and parents working to provide learning opportunities to achieve the youth’s full potential. Upon arrival in Melaka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I was greeted by Executive Director, Dr. Boon Hock Lim, at the bus station.
Immediately we departed for Wings Melaka’s location to visit staff and experience the work of Wings first hand. I toured the facility, seeing all of the toys and resoouces available for parents and the youth. Their resource library was full of dvd’s, books, trainings, educational toys, and more. After I was able to observe and help out at Wings' School Age Programme observing the class and spending time with the kids. The teachers were committed, patient, and creative making sure each student was busy completing his and her activities for the day. Some of the students' favorite activites were coloring and some were puzzles.
At the end of the day, I sat in on the weekly Parent Support meeting (Coffee Session) where parents can share struggles, experiences, and questions to support each other raising children with special needs. Some of their children were autistic, some hyperactive, and some had very rare developmental diseases. The parents opened up and began to share their experiences both with Wings and their children for example when they found out their child had a form of developmental disability like Autism and then the process of finding the right support and education. All of the parents shared the improvements they have seen with their children after being at Wings. There were tears, laughter, and encouragement.
A unique aspect of Wings' program that inspired me was that at least 1 parent/guardian is required to attend sessiona and practice with their kids. This is because Boon Hock explained to me that the learning process only BEGINS at Wings, but in order to make progress it must be continued at home consistently. Wings Melaka is providing the tools and training for the youth and their families for a brighter future with options, possibilities, and hope when before it was a future full of questions and fear. Also, it was wonderful to see kids, staff, and parents from all backgrounds, languages and cultures – all seeking a better future for their children.
Greetings from UNESCO World Heritage City of Malacca! We are pleased to update you on our activities and programme for the first quarter of 2012.
We currently have 24 students enrolled on the EIP, 2 of whom are new. Another 12 are enrolled on the SAP. As at this point in writing, we are scheduled to assess 4 other children waiting to come in.
Apart from routine sessions conducted for the children, we encourage parents to engage their children in meaningful play activities, bearing in mind that ‘the amount of a service is not what’s important, because all the child’s learning occurs between sessions’ (McWilliam 2000, p. 19).
The children who come to Wings Melaka generally have language and communication difficulties. So we schedule many group activities to encourage social interaction. For example, birthday parties for the children (together with their parents) can be such fun too!
2 more young adults have joined us, making the total number of 5 in our YAP. The activities continue to promote the young adult’s sense of ownership over her/his programme, and to encourage her/his own input, choices and decision-making.
Three of our staff from Wings Melaka went on a working visit in March to the Northlight School and St Andrew’s Autism Centre in Singapore. The teachers were also briefed on the use of interactive white boards.
We are deeply grateful to our many volunteers who come in regularly to help us with our programme activities.
25th Feb 2012: The 1st Parents Support Group meeting was attended by 19 parents. Moms & Dads shared grief and laughter, encouraging each other in facing their personal challenges bringing up a child with special needs.
10th Jan 2012: ED Dr Lim spoke to the staff of a private hospital at a disability awareness seminar.
13th – 17th March 2012: As ED of Wings Melaka, Dr Lim represented the ASEAN Autism Network at the UNESCAP meeting in Bangkok. This was an important meeting working towards the finalisation of The Incheon Strategy which will launch us into the next decade of Make the Right Real for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific, 2013-2022.
16th – 18th March 2012: Wings Melaka set up at booth at a major shopping mall in the city to raise awareness about disability issues.
Once again I take this opportunity on behalf of the Board, Staff and Community of Wings Melaka, to express my thanks and gratitude to thank all our friends for their invaluable partnership and support.
Since our last update in October, we have wrapped up one year and ushered in a new one.
Happy 2012 to all the friends and supporters of Wings Melaka out there!
In mid-November last year, we held our annual Thanksgiving & Graduation Party. The event, attended by some 100 family members and other guests, saw four children graduating from the School Age Programme (SAP).
Students from both the Early Intervention Programme (EIP) and the SAP staged an enjoyable programme of songs and story-telling as well as a charming fashion show for the guests. Our little ones certainly did their teachers proud, and the parents were busy snapping photos as each item was presented.
The Young Adults Programme (YAP) also launched its YAP Café successfully in early November 2011. It was closed over the December break but will re-open in February once the new students have settled in and will operate on two days a week.
Helping in the café will provide the students with effective pre-employment training to prepare them for work in the food industry. It will also allow them more opportunities to interact with new people and also meet up with old acquaintances, thus enhancing their social skills.
The school year started with three new students in the EIP. This brings the total enrolment to 26 for the EIP with another 11 children in the SAP. As is usual, the first couple of weeks have been particularly challenging for the teachers – the new children needed extra attention to ease into the programme while a number of the older ones also took some time to settle back into their class routine after the year-end break.
Over in the YAP section, there have been exciting developments. There are two new enrolments this year, which means Daniel Kan, our sole YAP student last year, now has two friends joining him for classes.
Apart from spending time on the more serious stuff such as functional maths and computer work under the ongoing education component as well as manners and money management under community skills, the trio have also been kept busy brushing up their independent living skills. They have not only worked hard learning to mop the floor and tend the garden properly but have also had fun in the kitchen putting together their own lunches.
It has been a promising start to 2012, so once again, a big “Thank you” for helping Wings Melaka in realising its mission to make a difference in the lives of the children and young people it serves.
And we would also like to wish our Chinese friends and supporters a truly blessed and happy Chinese New Year!
Greetings from Wings Melaka!
Over the past few months, there have been a host of activities in our centre, involving not just the children but also parents and staff.
Working with our children …
Classes for the children in the Early Intervention Programme (EIP) and School Age Programme (SAP) went on as usual, with the teachers doing their best to incorporate activities that met their students’ individual needs during the one-to-one sessions as well as others that were varied and fun during the group sessions.
In addition, the children went on outings in conjunction with the themes they were working on in September. The younger children in the EIP were looking at “Vegetables”, so their trip took them to the Jusco Supermarket to check out the fresh produce section. Meanwhile, the older ones in the SAP visited the Mahkota Medical Centre to learn a bit more about “Occupations”. During their time at the hospital, they got to meet not only doctors and nurses but also receptionists and even one of the resident chefs!
With young adults …
After over a decade of working with children, Wings Melaka finally launched its Young Adults Programme (YAP) in June with the husband-and-wife team comprising Richard Kan and Wilyn Chu as instructors and their son, Daniel, as its first student.
The programme is aimed at enhancing the overall quality of life of the students. In addition, it looks into enabling those who can acquire skills that will help them gain employment and move into independent/supported living. While the actual schedule of activities is adjusted depending on the needs of students, the curriculum covers the broad areas of Ongoing Education, Independent Living Skills, Social Skills, Community Skills, Recreation, Travel, Art & Craft and Employment.
With parents …
We have also created learning opportunities for the parents. In July, the regular bimonthly coffee session organised for parents developed into a long discussion about managing the child. They swapped stories about difficulties faced in handling their children and talked about strategies that work. Everyone present contributed actively to the exchange of views and ideas, and some even tried picking the teachers’ brains on what they should do under particular circumstances or when confronted with certain behaviours.
Given the parents’ concerns, it was appropriate that the topic addressed at the Parents Support Group meeting in August was Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). During the meeting, the teachers gave the parents an idea of how they could better understand why their children do what they do, and how the ABA approach could be used to reduce negative behaviours and reinforce new ones.
And with others out there
September and early October saw a round of professional development and sharing at the centre.
Speech pathologist and psychologist Dr Carl Parsons of Port Phillip Specialist School, Melbourne, and social worker Dr Judi Moyle of Monash University, Melbourne, conducted a two-day series of Developmental Disability Workshops in late September, with the former focusing on communication issues and the latter on behaviour management. Participants included parents, educators and service providers.
In the first week of October, Dr Parsons and Dr Moyle returned to Wings Melaka to conduct a four-day Autism Communication Camp for 17 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (the National University of Malaysia) students training to be speech pathologists. Others involved were UKM lecturer Ms Yazmin A. Rusli and nine children and their families. The camp saw the students observing the children in their daily routines and working with the parents to introduce more effective strategies to help the little ones communicate better, both verbally and non-verbally.
Yes, we have covered a fair bit of ground in the past months but there is a lot more to do for our present and future students. Thank you for supporting our work and walking with us.
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