THEN Chin Yin may not be able to articulate himself as well as other young people his age, but the 22-year-old with autism is certainly a good leader.
His leadership skills prompted him to be selected flag bearer for a recent fun walk organised by Touch Community Seremban – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to the teaching and training of the differently-abled.
He led more than 50 participants including his classmates and their families, teachers, friends and volunteers on the 2km walk in Seremban’s Lake Gardens.
The young man relished his role.
Seven-year-old R. Janeve Seetah was among the participants laughing and dancing to the energetic beat of the music. The bubbly bespectacled girl has Down Syndrome.
Her mother K. Bhagavad Gita said on weekdays, she travels 30 minutes daily from their family home in Rantau to send Janeve to the centre.
“We moved her out of her previous school as she was unhappy and not coping well.
“Although she has only been going to the centre for two months, the improvement has been good and she enjoys the hands-on activities as well as schoolwork, ” she said.
Touch Community Seremban chairperson Dr Pushpa Devi said the event provided students a chance to participate in an activity many people of their age took for granted.
“There are few events that have dedicated categories for those with special needs.
“We want people to know that these children can do it too and that more community involvement is necessary, ” she said.
Touch Community Seremban was set up in 2002 to equip differently-abled children with the education and training necessary to be self-sufficient.
Dr Pushpa said the NGO operated from a single-storey bungalow in Taman Bukit Blossom, Seremban, and currently has 25 students ranging from five to 33 years, and eight teachers.
“We set up the centre with the belief that special children have the right to a normal education.
“Students are divided into juniors and seniors, and the curriculum includes academics, fine and gross motor skills, sports, and vocational training such as sewing, cooking and baking, ” she said.
While parents pay a small fee for their children to attend the centre, funds are needed to upgrade equipment and to provide students with other learning opportunities.
Mambau assemblyman Yap Yew Weng, who joined the walk, commended the NGO for its efforts in educating and training children and youth with special needs.
“Events like these help create awareness of the needs of community members, and we can all play a part to support the cause.
“People with special needs should not be sidelined and we will definitely provide assistance to aid such initiatives, ” he said.
Yap announced an allocation of RM2,000 to Touch Community Seremban, which will go towards upgrading sports equipment for the students.
Datin Sunitha Nair, wife of Senator Datuk A. Kesavadas Nair, who was also at the event, said exposure to such events involving the public would be beneficial to the students.
“Community support will help motivate the students and create awareness on the needs of the NGO.“Funds are still needed to train teachers, and the organisation could also use volunteers, ” she said, adding that she provided baking lessons to the students at the centre.