Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Oscar

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 …..  Oscar Lee, a volunteer mentor who, together with his brother and mum, has become such an important part of the Care2Run family.

FOR more than six months, Oscar had been ferrying his younger brother, Brian, and mum Sheryll to and from Care2Run sessions.

He’d make sure they were on time every week and would return promptly, at the end of the sessions, to drive them home.

Once in awhile, the young man would stick around and take photographs or help the crew set up and wrap up the sessions and activities. However, by and large, Care2Run wasn’t his thing – it was Brian and Sheryll’s.

Then, one day, round about the time Care2Run was calling for volunteers to join the 2019 Junior Leaders Programme (JLP), Oscar stepped out from the sidelines and put himself forward as a volunteer mentor – a decision, he tells us, he has never regretted.

This is Oscar’s Care2Run story …

Hi there, Oscar. You’ve been involved with Care2Run for about a year, but only decided to take the plunge to become a volunteer mentor recently. What motivated you to want to step into the role of a mentor?
Hi! To be honest, I was a bit hesitant, initially, to join Care2Run as a mentor. Most of the programmes Brian is involved in don’t require parents or siblings to join in, and I guess there is a reason for that. For example, my mum and I have noticed that during certain programmes, when we are there, Brian wants our attention, and he won’t focus. At Care2Run, however, he’s more energised, so my mum encouraged me to join as a mentor. I thought about it for a while, and then decided it wasn’t a bad idea, because it allowed me to be a part of Brian’s activities and I didn’t have to ask him about what he’d done because I’d be there. Another reason I decided to sign up was that I was curious to discover how Care2Run gets siblings and parents to interact with other differently-abled young persons.

You’re a mentor to Ryan, a young man who’s blossomed over the course of the Junior Leaders Programme. Can you share with us what it’s been like working with him?
Ryan is a great kid. His memory constantly astounds me. He remembers people he’s met at Care2Run, and even how many times the person has attended the sessions. Sometimes he likes to challenge me by asking me who a person is when he already knows. Ryan’s really improved a lot in terms of body posture, being able to do the physical activities, and his confidence, and I’m very proud of him, especially now that he’s totally confident to lead the warm-up and warm-down sessions in front of everyone.

Was it difficult for you initially becoming a mentor?
I wouldn’t say it was difficult. The coaches like Prem, Greg and Mee Leng were really great in terms of the guidance they gave about what mentors should do to help and support mentees. I think the role-reversal segments during the Volunteer Orientation Programme were really helpful too because they made me realise what I, as a mentor, need to focus on when I meet a young person with a particular difference.

Your brother Brian seems to adore you. Have you two always been close?
Yes, we have. I always wanted a brother, so I try to give him my full attention. But perhaps, that’s one of the reasons he’s not so independent. Actually, in the beginning, when I signed up to be mentor, I thought I could be Brian’s mentor because I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to communicate what he was feeling to his mentors. He might mean one thing and the mentor might not understand, and Brian does get demotivated when people don’t understand him. However, when I started the volunteer training, I realised that every mentor has his or her challenges, and I had mine too. That’s when I realised I had to give others a chance to connect with Brian. In any case, Brian has definitely improved during the JLP thanks to his mentors Swee Tin and V, who gave him a lot of encouragement.

Can you share with us some of the personal highlights you’ve experienced over the time you, Brian and your mum have been involved with Care2Run?
For me, it was seeing Brian smiling more and interacting with people. Brian has some problems communicating with others, but thanks to people like Prem and his mentors, at Care2Run, he’s opened up. As a mentor, one of my highlights has been my own interaction with other differently-abled young persons. For so long, I only knew how to interact with Brian, who has Down syndrome. But through the programme, I’ve interacted with kids with ADHD and autism and other differences. Every kid is different and each difference requires a different engagement approach, and I know that now.

What are your aspirations for Care2Run?
I hope that Care2Run can grow and impact more people. The programmes really benefit the kids, for sure, but mentors benefit a lot too. For me, the training I receive through the Volunteer Orientation Programme opened my mind. And then there is also the fact that unlike many organisations that only focus on one particular difference, Care2Run is inclusive – you have kids with Down syndrome, autism, ADHD all interacting together. There’re no boundaries here, and I think that’s special.

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