Hope for children with disabilities

For a good cause: Lee (right) and Fadillah (second from right) looking at some of the items for sale at the carnival to raise funds for the SSMH. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

A GROUP of altruistic vendors was brought in to help raise funds at this year’s Society for the Severely Mentally Handicapped Selangor and Federal Territories (SSMH) Charity Carnival.

The society, based in Sea Park, Petaling Jaya, was set up more than three decades ago in 1984.

Stepping in as patron this year was EcoWorld Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who encouraged the spirit of volunteerism in Malaysians.

“It is estimated that about 10% of the population are disabled.

“I wish more groups of Malaysians will come forward to help the less fortunate to create a caring Malaysian society in line with Vision 2020.

“They can do this through donations or volunteering to assist associations such as SSMH that are set up to help the less fortunate,” he said.

According to SSMH president Fadillah Yakin, the society now runs on a monthly budget of RM25,000 for the upkeep of specialist therapists.

“We operate a training centre for about 20 severely disabled children aged two to 19 who come in every weekday for specialised programmes because they are more receptive to group work.

“In terms of support, we only get about 5 to 10% of our funding from the government in the form of grants for the teachers. The rest comes from the public and corporate sectors through fundraisers.

“Because of the children’s severe conditions, they need a lot of therapy and each child gets to see the therapists once or twice a week but we are trying to get the children to see them every day,” she said.

SSMH hoped to raise RM100,000 through the two-day carnival with the aim of increasing therapy sessions for the children.

With three full-time operational therapists and physiotherapists as well as three part-time therapists, SSMH looks to assist in the development of the children’s speech as well as basic motor skills to prepare them for everyday life.

She added that the society conducted a workshop every month to bring in families and help them learn how to care for the children at home.

“The children need constant care and attention and that is why we think it is very important that the families are involved.

“We want to create awareness among people with severely disabled children. We want them not to keep their children at home but bring them to the centre so we can help them, especially in terms of training,” Fadillah said.

Livening up the crowd on the weekend were the voluntary acts of the Star Wars fan group 501st Legion Malaysia Outpost dressed in their ever-fascinating Star Wars villain outfits complete with Darth Vader in tow.

The carnival in Bangsar Village in Kuala Lumpur saw 12 food vendors and 17 vendors selling miscellaneous items from clothes to children’s toys, while SSMH had eight booths selling donated items.

In addition to the annual charity carnivals, the society’s other fundraising activities include raising money through movie screenings.

This time around they are collaborating with Tanjong Golden Village (TGV) cinemas for pre-bookings of the upcoming Star Wars film that will be released in Kuala Lumpur in Dec at a cost of RM50 per ticket.

For details, visit www.ssmh.org.my

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