Voices That Care
Say Hello to ... Wendi
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 ….. Wendi Sia, a volunteer mentor and coach who has been with Care2Run since our inception in 2015.
WENDI has been involved with Care2Run since our earliest days in 2015 and has donned many hats in the course of her journey – from communications officer to coach. However, she tells us that the most rewarding role she has assumed has been as a mentor to Care2Run’s young differently-abled participants.
Having always believed in the power of sports to make a sustained difference, Wendi says witnessing the changes in Care2Run’s participants has been particularly special.
She shares: “I was recently at Section 14 in Petaling Jaya and I bumped into Seng Joon, a young junior coach whom I helped mentor, and I asked him if he remembered me, and of course, he did. He’s working now and personally for me, it’s really nice to see how much he has grown in self-confidence and the progress he has made.
We’ll let Wendi tell you the rest of her story …
Hello there, Wendi. Can you tell us a little about what you do for a living?
I’m in involved in placemaking. It’s a bit hard to explain what placemaking is but what I basically do is space activation for events and functions. That’s my day job. When I’m not working, I’m involved in a whole load of sports activities. Hiking, running and stuff. I’m like this sports ambassador who is always ready to talk about the benefits of sports. People think I’m crazy. [laughs]
That’s awesome! Was it your love for sports then that attracted you to Care2Run?
Yes, I was definitely drawn to the fact that it used the medium of sports to try and help young people. And it’s amazing to see how Care2Run has evolved into something inclusive that benefits everyone now, not just participants, but coaches and mentors as well.
Can you tell us how you first got involved with the programmes?
I met Prem in mid-2015 through a mutual friend. I was working at Shape magazine then, and this friend and I got to talking about hiking. I didn’t know anything about hiking at the time and I asked him a lot of questions. That’s when he introduced me to Prem and told me how he took groups hiking. Later, I used to run with Prem every Tuesday at Bukit Gasing and that’s about the time that he roped me in to get involved with Care2Run.
What was it like in the early days? Can you tell us about some of the challenges the team faced?
Honestly, it was a lot of trial and error. It took us, and Prem especially, quite a while to find our direction. And I think it was only when we did that first programme with SMK Kelana Jaya that it became clear that the focus would be on under-served and differently abled young people. Before that, our focus was on underprivileged youth. If you look at Care2Run today, it’s the result of the direction that was taken following the programme with SMK Kelana Jaya.
It’s safe to say then that your involvement with Care2Run has been rewarding.
Yes, of course. When I started, it was because I didn’t want to just work every day, I wanted something more. And being involved with Care2Run on the weekends allowed me to step away from the corporate world. It also introduced me to community work and gave me a grounding on what was required of volunteers. Later on, I did some community work in Cambodia – where I worked in an animal sanctuary – and I am sure that my involvement with Care2Run helped prepare me for it.
So you had no experience with differently-abled young people prior to Care2Run?
That’s right. I used to teach kids English and Malay to young children, but that’s about it.
Can you tell us what it’s like being a mentor, and why you think Care2Run’s programmes have so much of an impact on young people?
In the beginning, participants are usually very shy. That’s normal. Let’s say you start a session at 8am. You might have a bunch of kids early on who are really shy. However, because of the high energy of the coaches and the nature of the activities we do, you get to break the ice really quickly and the kids start to warm up to you. And when you have that kind of relationship over a sustained period of time, bonds start to form. When I teach kids, for example, it takes a really long time to break the ice. At Care2Run, the bonds are formed much easier.
As someone who’s been here from the very beginning, what are your aspirations and dreams for Care2Run?
For more schools – across Malaysia and hopefully Singapore – to adopt Care2Run as part of their curriculums.