Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Ryan

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 …..  Ryan Loke, a mentor and senior coach who got involved with Care2Run by pure chance.

ACCORDING to Ryan, his Care2Run journey began with him stumbling upon an article in the daily newspaper.

Since that fateful day four years ago, however, Ryan has gone from occasional volunteer to mentor and eventually, senior coach; and all because he was motivated to learn and grow together with Care2Run’s young participants.

“I don’t have any kids of my own, so I was not sure about mentoring youths. But I learnt what was needed from the participants themselves. To be honest, I think that’s the best part about Care2Run – mentors and mentees get to grow together. You never stop learning,” says the security consultant.

Here’s Ryan with the rest of his story …

Hello there, Ryan. You’ve been with Care2Run for many years now. Can you share with us how you first got involved?
Hi there. I had been running regularly for a few years when I came across an article in The Star about Care2Run and what they did. I remember thinking the project was interesting because it was focussed on helping children – be they underprivileged or differently-abled – through physical activities and running. After reading that article, I thought to myself that instead of running alone, I might as well do something more meaningful and run with these kids. So I sent an email and they got back to me. That’s how it all began.

You mean you didn’t know any of the pioneer team members prior to joining Care2Run?
That’s correct. Many of those from the founding team knew each other through running and trail hiking, but I had never met any of them prior to my first session with Care2Run. Of course, subsequently, I became part of the community, and am now friends with all the founding team members.

What is it that has kept you coming back to Care2Run over the years?
Part of it has to do with the activities, which I find very engaging, and part of it has to do with the fact that we work with young people that need a little guidance. To be honest, I don’t think I am naturally very good with kids. However, through Care2Run I’ve learnt how to be a mentor. So I’d say that as much as I’ve mentored the participants, it has also been a learning experience for me. I don’t think you ever stop learning, and my experiences with Care2Run have taught me so much. I started volunteering with Care2Run at around the same time as participants like Parthivan and Arun joined. So I’ve seen those kids grow from shy teenagers to confident young adults. I feel very proud when I see what they’ve achieved. Many of these children lacked direction when they joined. But now, they’re confident and know how to weigh the pros and cons and make decisions in their lives.

What are your thoughts when you look at what Care2Run has managed to achieve since 2015?
Looking back at what we have done over the years, you can see that there has been a lot of progress. In the early days, a lot of the activities revolved around running and sports. But since the Junior Leaders Programme last year, the focus has shifted towards youth development. I think that’s a great move and I hope that we can continue building and developing.

Have the changes over the years, especially from a focus on underprivileged youths to differently-abled young persons, been challenging for you personally?
In some ways, yes. In the beginning, we were focussed on underprivileged kids. Mentoring those children is challenging, however, mentoring differently-abled young people is a little more demanding. For me, I don’t have much experience in terms of mentoring differently-abled children, so I have always just tried my best to listen to them, and encourage them as best I can.

What do you especially like about Care2Run’s one-on-one mentoring approach?
I think it allows the mentor to grow together with his or her mentee and watch them progress. When you work together with someone over a period of time, a bond is formed. Besides that, there is also a feeling of fulfilment for both the mentor and mentee at the end of the journey. Take, for example, someone like Parthivan. He couldn’t really run when he joined us. But by working together with a mentor, he was able to realise his potential and unlock his love for running.

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