Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Thiyagu

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 ….. Thiyagu Rajoo, a mentor and senior coach who’s been involved with Care2Run from Day One.

FOR Thiyagu, Care2Run has been an enriching experience not just for the hundreds of participants who’ve walked through our doors over the years, but also for him, personally.

“I was 25 when I got involved with Care2Run, and at the time my priorities and thought processes were very different. But over the years, I’ve learnt to look at things differently, and that is all because of Care2Run,” says the mentor and senior coach, who’s a geophysicist by profession.

Thiyagu adds too that it’s not just Care2Run’s young, differently-abled participants who’ve inspired him, but also his fellow mentors and coaches.

Hello, Thiyagu. You’ve had many different roles in Care2Run over the years. Could you share with us how your journey began and what some of those roles were?
Hi! I attended the first-ever meeting Care2Run meeting and ever since then, I’ve been involved in the programmes, first as a volunteer, and then as a mentor and finally, a coach. I also worked full time for Care2Run for a while. Back in 2015, I used to run with Prem and the gang in Bukit Gasing, so that’s how I became involved. I was very excited when the idea of starting something to give back to society was first floated. I’d just started working at the time, and I was starting to feel like I wasn’t contributing enough to society. 

You must have seen countless participants grow through Care2Run’s programmes over the years. Are there any that stand out for you?
There are so many, but for me, Parthivan’s transformation is inspirational. I remember the first time I met him. He was in Form 2 … very timid and unsure of himself. But look at him now. He’s a confident young man who’s not only excelled at sports, but also become someone who can inspire others. When I look at him now, I can see how that initial seed of confidence that was planted by Care2Run has helped him blossom.

As someone who’s been involved with the programmes from the very beginning, what do you feel is unique about Care2Run?
I feel Care2Run provides a platform for kids, regardless of their differences, to grow. There are many examples of kids who’ve thrived in here, like Omar, Amirul and so many more. Why do kids who are reserved start to express themselves more after coming to Care2Run? I feel it’s because of the positive environment here. There are no judgements. And everyone’s given a chance.

Were you always comfortable interacting with children and young people?
Not really. I’d not had much experience dealing with kids before Care2Run. The most interaction I had with kids was when I was involved in facilitating one-off seminars in schools. So Care2Run was the first time that I was in contact with young people over a prolonged period. I’m definitely more comfortable interacting with young persons, especially differently-abled young persons, now.

Would you say you’ve grown a lot over the years thanks to Care2Run?
Definitely. I’ve learned to look at life differently. When I started my professional life, I was very ambitious and quite focussed on myself. Care2Run has taught me empathy and to realise that everyone has different challenges. In the past, it was always about myself. But now, I try to understand people and I try my best not hurt anyone with my words or actions. I’ve learnt a lot from the volunteers and coaches I’ve worked with at Care2Run and one of those I look up to is Mee Leng. The way she treats people – with so much kindness, regardless of the situation – is inspiring to me. She’s always calm and composed, and that has often made me think that I should try and be like that.

What are your aspirations for Care2Run?
One of the things I hope we can achieve is to have Care2Run sessions every week. I know we currently focus on programmes, but I’d like to see us reach a point where, regardless of whether there’s a Junior Leaders Programme or Foundation Programme going on, there’re also standalone Care2Run sessions every Sunday. If we can achieve this, it would mean that we’ve found a way for the programmes to be sustainable financially and that we’ve mapped out all our goals. Having programmes every week would also act as a kind of advertising and allow people who don’t know about us to come and see what we’re all about any weekend.

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