Voices That Care
Say Hello to ... Karen
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 ….. Karen Wong, who hasn’t stopped recruiting new volunteers since she joined us in 2015.
IT wasn’t difficult to say “yes” when she heard Care2Run was looking for help all those years ago, Karen tells us. There was a need for volunteers and she jumped at the opportunity to give back.
Care2Run was in its infancy in 2015, but Karen says that she got more and more involved after her first initial experience, and was determined to introduce people to the programmes.
“I’ve always tried to introduce friends to the programmes and I used to call on them a lot in the early days when we needed help. Say we needed someone to take pictures, or needed more people to run with the kids at an event … I’d call up friends and have them come help. I’ve invited many friends over the years to volunteer with Care2Run,” says Karen before adding, “For us (who volunteer) it’s just a small contribution of our time. But the return of love and appreciation is unmeasurable.”
Hi there Karen. Could you share with us how you got involved with Care2Run?
About four years ago, Care2Run held a programme in Port Dickson for underprivileged and high-risk children and they were calling for volunteers. My friend May – who’s also a friend of Prem’s – asked me if I wanted to join. Basically, they were looking for an extra pair of hands. Initially, I was just helping out a bit here and there. But slowly I started getting more and more involved with the core team and I began to see the benefits of the programmes. I saw how much it was contributing for the children and their development.
Leo told us about how you were instrumental in bringing him on board. What’s motivated you to keep recruiting people to join us.
Yes, I roped Leo in. And recently, I introduced another friend, Kok Meng, to the programme. I have found Care2Run very fulfilling and I wanted to share that joy and fulfilment with my friends. Another reasons is that I feel there are many people who might want to volunteer but they just don’t know what the avenues are, how to go about it or which organisations to volunteer with. Sometimes maybe all people need is just a friend to kinda say, “Hey, come along and check this out.” Sometimes, people just need a little nudge. I, personally, like to give back to society. And for me, I think my involvement in church has also helped shape and instilled that kind of desire in me to want to give back to society and make a small impact in someone’s life. And it just so happened that I found Care2Run.
Could you share with us a personal highlight that stood out in all the time that you’ve been contributing to Care2Run?
When I first started, I was paired with a young mentee on the autism spectrum and I found it very challenging. I had never interacted with children with autism before that, so it was, at times, very trying. When we played games, for example, I didn’t know if he understood the instructions and I worried about how I was going to mentor him week after week when it appeared that he didn’t want to connect with me. When you speak with a child and he doesn’t look at you and walks away, you feel kinda disappointed (with yourself). But here’s the thing. You keep at it and suddenly, you break through and make that connection and it’s magical. Suddenly, you have that bond. Following that, week after week, when the mentee comes for the sessions, he knows and looks for you first. You don’t have to tell him anymore to not wonder off and stay close, because he now has learnt to trust you. That bond between mentor and mentee is just amazing.
We guess, that’s proof positive of Care2Run’s one-on-one mentoring approach?
Very much so.
How do you feel Care2Run’s use of sports aids a differently-abled young person’s development?
I think the activities and games we play at Care2Run – like with the Dodgebee – help improve and develop motor skills in certain children who face physical challenges. And in an autistic child, for example, it teaches them about teamwork and collaboration. It also helps build leadership skills and independence. We’ve seen the fruits of that and seen how some of these young children have come through the system and developed leadership skills which have helped them become more well rounded individuals.
As someone who’s been with us for so many years now, what are your hopes and dreams for Care2Run?
Well, there are a couple of things I hope we can achieve. Firstly, I hope that we can attract a lot more volunteers who have a passion to help bring out the best in every child. Getting volunteers, let alone volunteers with the same kind of passion the founders themselves have, is not easy. I also hope that Care2Run is able to grow and become more well-known in society. It’s possible to see the development – be it big or small – in every individual who’s come through the doors of Care2Run. And because of that, I hope that everyone who’s been touched in some way by what we do, shares about it. In that way, we can continue to grow.