Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Swee Tin

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 ….. Ong Swee Tin, a mum of three who’s transitioned from observer to facilitator in just a year.

SWEE TIN has had an eventful 12 months with Care2Run, having gone from parent observer to volunteer mentor and currently, the co-facilitator of our seventh Foundation Programme. Yet ask her, and she’ll readily admit that she wasn’t always certain Care2Run was the right fit for her and her three children, especially her eldest boy, Chu Kian.

A year on from walking through Care2Run’s proverbial doors, however, Swee Tin, who gave up a career in molecular biology to be a full-time mum, says she couldn’t be happier that Care2Run has become a home away from home for her family.

She explains: “There are many things I love about Care2Run. It’s a safe environment where my children can play, improve through sports and be themselves. Then, there’s the positive energy that everyone brings to the programmes and sessions. But most of all, I’m thankful that by being involved in Care2Run, I’ve learnt empathy, and how words can be used to empower young persons.”

And here’s Swee Tin to share more …

Hey there, Swee Tin. You’ve been involved with the programmes for about a year now. What were your first impressions of Care2Run
Hello! Well, when I brought the kids to our first session, I felt that the programmes were not for us. At the time, everyone was training for the Bursa Bull Charge 2018, so the participants were mostly teenagers. It was chaos with my kids. [laughs] They were running everywhere, throwing the Dodgebee about and I felt they were disturbing everyone! But then, a few months later, I thought I’d give it another try, and brought just Chu Kian this time to a session. That’s when we were practising for the Allianz-Pacesetters Relay 2018. There were many younger kids then, and that’s actually when it started becoming fun for Chu Kian and me. 

Could you share with us about Chu Kian’s developmental journey?
Chu Kian was diagnosed with dyslexia when he seven, but I noticed something amiss when he was six. However, at the time, when I consulted with the speech therapist who was helping Chu Kian, she said that he wasn’t dyslexic but slightly more active than normal children and that he was having trouble paying attention. She suggested we get an occupational therapist to help Chu Kian with his attention problems. Through OT, we discovered that he also had some sensory issues. Thankfully, however, with therapy, Chu Kian’s speech quickly improved.

As for reading, it was sometimes difficult when Chu Kian was younger to tell if he was dyslexic because he’d memorise the words in picture books and repeat them. In Standard One, however, it was very clear that there was a problem. That’s when we did a school placement test to get a clearer picture of Chu Kian’s differences, and to change our teaching methods for him. When we did the test, the psychologist suggested we screen Chu Kian for ADHD and dyslexia. The test confirmed that he didn’t have ADHD, but he was dyslexic.

Did finding out about Chu Kian’s challenges make you read up and study about dyslexia?
You know, I used to get frightened reading because I’d notice even more problems. Shortly after Chu Kian was diagnosed, I found that all three of my boys had speech delay issues, and when I discovered that, it felt like the whole world was collapsing around me. The first thing I thought of was, “Here I am, educated and able to speak multiple languages, while my sons are having trouble with just one language.” It was a difficult time. 

Parents do sometimes blame themselves when their children are diagnosed with differences.
Trust me, it was the same for me. Sometimes I wondered whether all the time I’d spent working in the lab and my exposure to chemicals had indirectly hurt my children. And the more I read, the more I felt it was my fault. 

Do you feel that Chu Kian has grown through the Junior Leaders Programme?
Definitely. I have a little assistant now who is quick to help me with things and even break up fights between his siblings. At the sessions, I’ve observed that he has progressed and that he’s growing into his role as a Junior Coach. Now, Chu You, my second son, is in the programme, and I can see how Chu Kian plays his role as both brother and coach, always looking out for his younger brother. 

You transitioned from parent observer to volunteer mentor and finally, facilitator. What made you want to volunteer in the first place?
It started with me wanting to find out what it means to be a mentor and how my son would actually benefit from one-on-one mentoring. At the start, it was also like a screening process. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t take anything at face value. Just because someone says it’s good, it doesn’t mean I’ll automatically believe it. I have to find out the truth myself.

Is it more challenging that now you’re a facilitator?
Oh, it is. But it’s also more fun. I love seeing the expression on the face of someone who’s managed to achieve something. Everyone faces hurdles, and it’s the same for differently-abled kids. We feel down when we can’t achieve something, and so do they. But when they do break through, overcome their challenges and manage to achieve their goals … that satisfaction that you see them express is priceless. 

What are your aspirations for Chu Kian and Care2Run?
For Chu Kian as well as for other differently-abled children, my hope is that they are happy. There is so much pressure on kids, especially on kids with differences. But I hope they – and their parents and guardians – keep believing and realise that, often, all differently-abled children need is a just a little more time and effort to learn things and excel. For Care2Run, I hope that we can initiate more programmes where junior coaches and participants can interact with and learn from each other.

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