Voices That Care
Say Hello to ... Izzaty & Azleen
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 ….. Nur Izzaty Rasli and Nur Azleen Abdullah, a daughter and mum who’ve grown so much together since joining Care2Run.
IZZATY was quite reserved at the first Care2Run session she attended back in August last year. However, as the weeks passed and the young lady became familiar with the faces around her, she opened up and smiled more and more. So much so that by the time he stepped up to the starting line at Bursa Bull Charge 2018 (BBC 2018) a month later, Izzaty was positively glowing.
Sure, the driving rain may have put a damper on proceedings on the day of the event itself, but the one thing it could not do was wash the palpable joy from Izzaty’s face. Every step she took that day was greeted with encouragement and Izzaty responded in kind, running and walking like a champion and high-fiving everyone she met on the path.
Her mum Azleen told us at the time that she had been worried about Izzaty prior to the event getting underway. However, by the end of the 1.5km run, Azleen was convinced that the decision to sign up her daughter for the event had been the right one.
Said Azleen then: “I was actually nervous and anxious about how Izzaty would act and react on the event date. (But) her mentors, Liza and Padma were superb! ‘Good job!’ ‘Go Izzaty, go … you can do it!’ All these kind encouraging words changed Izzaty’s entire day.”
Asked about BBC 2018 now, six months on, Azleen is still as moved, and reveals to us that it was the positive experiences at training sessions and the run itself that motivated her to become a Care2Run volunteer.
“You can really tell that Izzaty enjoys being a part of Care2Run. Every time she sees the yellow t-shirt, she gives a thumbs up, smiles and says, ‘Best!’ She identifies the shirt with the people here. That speaks a lot about how much she likes it and I’m very grateful for that,” she says.
Here’s Azleen to share with us more about Izzaty’s experiences, as well as hers, with Care2Run.
Hi there Azleen, can you tell us a little about yourself and Izzaty?
Hello. Well, I’m retired now, but I was in banking for 20-plus years and left my job in 2001. I was with Bank Bumiputra, which eventually became Bumiputra Commerce. Since 2001, I’ve been actively volunteering with NGOs – mainly in organisations for differently-abled children – as well as been involved in other community projects.
Izzaty was only two when I left my job, and my decision to do full-time NGO work and learn whatever I could was because I wanted to help her. My husband and I knew Izzaty had Down Syndrome the moment she was born, and from then I’ve been focussed on her.
Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation (KDSF) was the first place we enrolled Izzaty in, and she was there until she turned six. From there, we enrolled her in Wisma Harapan in Brickfields, Nowadays, she occasionally goes to Persatuan Sindrom Down Malaysia.
It’s not always been easy. At KDSF, she was around other children with Down Syndrome but later on, she was grouped together with other differently-abled children, and that I think was a challenge both for her and her teachers.
Can you tell us how you got involved with Care2Run?
Actually, it was by chance. I saw a link in a WhatsApp group calling for participants for BBC 2018 and I thought to myself, why not just sign up. I didn’t know anything about Care2Run but it looked to be an NGO that was different from the kind of NGOs I work with.
Now that I’ve been involved here for a while, I do think Care2Run is extremely unique, especially in terms of the one-on-one sports mentoring approach, which no one else does. And I think the programmes are very holistic. It’s not really about keeping fit but more about developing differently-abled young people like Izzaty.
I’ve personally seen how these young people are given the opportunity to grow individually, and to become leaders and inspire and understand each other. And this happens because all Care2Run participants are treated as equals, and every milestone is recognised and celebrated.
How would you say Izzaty’s grown since getting involved with Care2Run?
For her, I think positive reinforcement has been the main factor in encouraging her to participate. Izzaty’s first involvement with Care2Run was BBC 2018. She was extremely shy during the first practice session. There were so many new people and because of that, she was very withdrawn and didn’t want to do anything. But after a few weeks, she felt more at home and more secure, and she started responding. And at the run itself, she had so much fun. Her mentors really connected with her and she looked really happy. It was the first time she’d ever run in the heavy rain and I could see how much she enjoyed it.
Izzaty also took part in the Ayer CelebrateLife Walk a few months ago. Did she enjoy it as much as BBC?
She did and I really have to thank the wonderful Junior Coaches Max and Sin Mei for bonding so well with Izzaty. Sin Mei was especially very sweet and she tried so many things to get Izzaty to move when she refused to walk anymore. She even tried to entice Izzaty with Milo! That was really fun. And Max let her use his camera to take pictures.
You’re now a regular Care2Run volunteer. What does Care2Run mean to you, Azleen, and why do you keep volunteering?
I really wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Care2Run team for all your efforts in championing differently-abled kids. There are not enough people who care to develop kids with differences and I think what the team is doing is really special. Prem, for one, has been Izzaty’s No. 1 motivator and champion and he knows exactly how to unlock her and I’m really grateful for that as well as the fact that Care2Run has played such an important role in Izzaty’s journey.
For me personally, I have seen how Care2Run has helped Izzaty build self-awareness and I believe it can help others in the same way. Additionally, I think it provides a platform for these young people to interact and socialise with other people. As a parent, I’ve seen how Izzaty has grown in her own way and I feel blessed that I got to know about Care2Run. That’s why I volunteer.