Voices That Care
Say Hello to ... Brian & Sheryll
Every single person in Care2Run’s ecosystem is essential, and we’ve grown so much in three years thanks to all the different individuals who’ve played a part in getting us to where we are.
It is for this reason that we aim to hand this section over to our people – our participants, coaches, volunteers, parents, friends and loved ones – so they can tell you what Care2Run means to them.
This week we say hello to ….. Brian Lee and Sheryll Chan, a son and mum who’ve come to call Care2Run home.
DESPITE having his mum and brother watching from the sidelines, and even though there were a couple of familiar faces running and exercising alongside him, Brian’s first steps with Care2Run were tentative.
The young man, like many participants who’ve joined us over the years, was hesitant when first encouraged to join in on the activities. However, Brian’s apprehensiveness didn’t last very long, because as soon as he had connected with his mentor, the lad was, as his mum Sheryll tells us, “energised”.
“When we were training for the Bursa Bull Charge last year, Brian was paired with Ong Kheng Kok from Bursa Malaysia, who was so patient and reassuring that he really managed to bring out the best in Brian. Even at the run, Kheng Kok was just as excited as him, and that allowed Brian to feel accomplished.
“Brian performs differently with different people. When he likes the mentor, he’s a different person altogether and you could see that at the sessions and at the run,” Sheryll, a teacher by profession, says.
She continues, “When we first joined Care2Run, Prem and the coaches would greet Brian with “Good morning” or “High five!” and he used to look away. Nowadays, he’s engaged.”
It’s been more than six months since Brian first came on board. And with every passing week, he appears more and more at home at Care2Run. Additionally, Sheryll and her older son Oscar, have both become Care2Run volunteer mentors. But we’ll let Sheryll tell you about all that …
Hello, Sheryll. You, Brian and Oscar have been with us since August last year. Can you share with us how you heard about Care2Run?
Hi there. Actually, I heard about Care2Run from Zi Ren’s mother, Irene. We’d struck up a friendship some years earlier and became closer when Brian attended dance training sessions at Persatuan Sindrom Down Malaysia for the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Para Games in 2017. One day, sometime last year, Irene told me she was attending a sports session at Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation (KDSF) with Zi Ren and later, after the session, she shared some pictures with me. I asked about the future sessions, but she said the * next session was already full, so I left it at that. A few months later, however, Care2Run was calling for people to take part in the Bursa Bull Charge 2018 (BBC 2018), and that’s when we joined.
* The session Irene referred to, and which she and Zi Ren attended, was held in tandem with the inaugural Care2Run Junior Leaders Programme Graduation and Final Assessment.
Could you share with us a little about Brian’s developmental journey?
Brian was at KDSF from age two till he was six. Later on he went to SPICES – a centre in Wangsa Maju which conducts early intervention and pre-school inclusion programmes. From age eight to 18, he went to Persatuan Kanak-Kanak Istimewa Hulu Langat. Now, he attends the Inclusive Outdoor Classroom on Saturdays and Care2Run on Sundays. In terms of physical development, Brian trained at the gym regularly under Ms Judy Leng. When he was younger, he did horse riding too. Brian loves medals! He simply adores the ones he got from the horse riding, the gym competitions and Spartan Races he’s participated in, and I feel proud when I see the effort he has put into these activities. The teen period requires a lot of building, strengthening and correction of skills, and I’m ever grateful to all who work with Brian.
How would you say Brian has developed since joining Care2Run?
At the sessions these days, you can notice that Brian is able to follow the routines. He sees his peers all trying to complete the activities and compliment one another and that motivates him. He also loves the power-packed greetings and he feels energised by them. I would say being outdoors has really spurred him on.
As a teacher yourself, do you feel that young people, specifically differently-abled young persons, can learn, develop and be transformed through sports and outdoor activities?
Yes, of course. Many kids with differences have trouble with fine motor skills. However, you have to focus on improving a child’s gross motor skills before you can look at fine motor skills. You have to get them to move their bodies and look to improve muscle function and hand-eye coordination. This approach tends to work with all children. For those who are hyperactive, for example, sports helps them get that energy out and they will calm down after that. And for those who are not energetic, exercise gets them activated.
What, in your opinion, is unique about Care2Run’s approach to transforming differently-abled young persons?
I love the energy that the coaches put into the sessions. The things that strike you about Care2Run is that a lot of research and planning has been put into the programmes. The facilitators and coaches know where the needs are and what is required to fill the gaps in the education of differently-abled children.
To me, the inclusion here is also special. A lot of the parents and children who come here have been to hours and hours of therapy and programmes but I feel Care2Run’s approach is one that is welcoming to all and gives everyone a chance to grow and achieve something special. Differently-abled children want chances and opportunities and Care2Run provides that.
From a parent observer, you’ve graduated to become a volunteer and now a mentor with Care2Run. Can you share with us why you chose to become a mentor?
It was firstly, to empower myself with better skills in order that I may empower Brian. The activities at Care2Run are structured appropriately for him to develop physically and more importantly, mentally. He is now able to make choices on what he likes to do at the Sunday sessions. He also has friends here. I am already in my sixties, so however much I can help to empower Brian to be independent and happy, I will. A big part of what I do is for my boys. The memories are theirs.
As for being a mentor, I certainly hope to connect more with the differently-abled community. I feel all of us have so much to give to enrich their lives, and in return, these young people enlighten us too.