Voices That Care
Say Hello to ... Kok Meng
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 ….. Kok Meng, a dad and volunteer mentor who says he’s enjoyed growing, playing and learning alongside Care2Run’s participants.
THE activity modules for Care2Run’s Foundation Programme may have been designed with differently-abled children in mind. However, Kok Meng, a parent and volunteer mentor, says he often finds himself enjoying the weekly sessions more than the participants.
“The sessions are a way for me to be a kid again, so often I find that I’m the one having fun and enjoying the activities,” laughs Kok Meng.
“I feel that it’s sometimes hard for an adult to connect with a kid but it’s always easy for a kid to connect with another kid. So that’s what I try to remember during the activities when I interact with my mentee.”
Kok Meng and his 13-year-old son, Hahn, have been participants in the seventh instalment of our Foundation Programme, and according to dad, the fun activities are just a small part of what they both love about Care2Run.
Hi there, Kok Meng. You and Hahn actually joined us for a few sessions earlier in the year before coming back for the Foundation Programme. Did it take you a while to decide on enrolling Hahn in the programme?
Hello! Well, when I brought Hahn for a couple of familiarisation sessions earlier in the year, the emphasis was on the Junior Leaders Programme (JLP) and I felt that the structure of the programme, which focuses a lot on executive functions, was a little advanced for Hahn. I think it’s a very good programme actually, but Hahn is non-verbal and tends to lose focus quite easily, so I felt it would be too much for him for a start. However, when the Foundation Programme was announced, I decided to enrol him.
Has Hahn enjoyed the sessions?
Well, he happily wakes up for the early morning sessions and doesn’t complain about coming. Also his mood at the sessions is usually good, so I do think he enjoys it. Plus, he has very good mentors in CK and Naavalan, so that helps. Hahn, by nature, is very compliant but the challenge is that he can easily lose focus especially during group activities. So the one-on-one mentoring approach, that Care2Run uses, is a tremendous help.
CK seems to have forged a really close bond with Han.
Definitely. CK is herself a parent to a differently-abled boy, so that helps. But I do also feel that the training programme that volunteers are required to undergo is beneficial in helping potential mentors connect with participants. It takes a lot of patience and skill to connect with differently-abled children and the training provided helps us all, as parents and volunteers, to understand the different challenges and the effort needed to engage with these kids.
You’ve been mentoring Kevin. What has that experience been like?
We communicate quite well and even at the beginning, we managed to connect. Kevin is a very intelligent boy and I think he’d be a good candidate to progress onwards to the JLP. He has the potential to be a junior coach.
Being a mentor as well as the parent of a participant, is it difficult to let go and trust that your child will be taken care of?
It was difficult in the beginning. During the first few sessions, I was constantly keeping an eye on Hahn. But after I realised he was in good hands, I let go and let his mentors work with him. It was a conscious decision as well knowing that I have a lot of time with him normally, and to allow his mentors the space to connect and interact with him.
Having been with us for a couple of months now, what do you especially like about the programme?
Oh, there’re so many things. I love the culture of Care2Run. There’s a lot of sincerity and commitment on the part of the facilitators and founders in wanting to see participants improve. It’s also very multi-racial and family-orientated, with participants’ siblings and family members always welcome. And then, of course, there is the fact that the programme is very well planned and structured. Sometimes with programmes of this nature, they can be very fun but loose. That’s not the case with Care2Run. Everyone’s very professional and committed.
What are your aspirations for Care2Run, Kok Meng?
One of the things I hope can be achieved is for programmes to be run the whole year-round. So perhaps we could have the JLP running concurrently with the Foundation Programme and other different programmes. I understand that manpower and funding are some of the issues currently affecting Care2Run, but I hope at some point, we’re able to run our programmes the whole year-round.