Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Yen Yen & Wai Kuan

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 …..  Lim Yen Yen, a participant who loves being a part of Care2Run’s programmes, and her mum, Lee Wai Kuan.

Like many teenagers her age, Yen Yen loves meeting friends and dancing. Unlike many teenagers though, this beautiful young woman’s differences mean that she experiences challenges in articulating what she likes and enjoys, or even when she just wants to be left alone.

Yen Yen’s mum, Lee Wai Kuan, says that it isn’t always easy for people to understand her daughter, or what she wants. However, at Care2Run, Yen Yen appears to have found a place where she feels at home.

The teen has only been attending Care2Run programmes for less than half a year. However, it is clear to see that she genuinely enjoys being around people, and participating in activities – specifically, running – with her peers.

At the Allianz-Pacesetters Relay on November 3, 2018, Yen Yen posted a remarkable time of 3km in 35 minutes. But, the best part about that, as Care2Run Coach Gregory Phua said on Facebook shortly after the event, is not that Yen Yen completed the event in record time, but that she had “a barrel of laughs” along the way, thanks in part to her running partner Rachel, who guided Yen Yen and ensured she was safe throughout.

Rachel, Greg and Yen Yen did another 3km together just this past weekend (January 13, 2019) at the KL Bar Run 2019 and the experience was just as memorable for all three as the first time around. As a matter of fact, Yen Yen, who started dancing to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk soon after completing the distance this time, looked like she could go another 3km. And perhaps next time, she will!

To Wai Kuan, these precious moments are what encourage her and Yen Yen to keep coming back to Care2Run. We’ll let her tell you more …

 Hi there Wai Kuan. Can you tell us a little about yourself and Yen Yen?

I am a homemaker and a mother to two girls. Yen Yen is 17 years old and my eldest. My younger girl Yen Nee is 15.

Yen Yen has autism and global development delay. There are many challenges for my girl, at school or even at home. People find it difficult to accept or understand her. Even among family members, it can be difficult. Not everyone can understand Yen Yen and understand why she is the way she is.

When my girl was born, I thought everything was all right. She looked normal, so it was hard to diagnose if anything was wrong. Then when she was three years old, Yen Yen had a fever and fits. That episode affected some parts of her brain and after that I noticed there were other symptoms. I read about autism on my own, then we went to see a doctor he confirmed that my girl had autism. At the time, I was still working. But after that, I quit my job to stay at home and look after Yen Yen.

I didn’t send my girl to any special schools for kindergarten or anything like that. But when she was eight, I enrolled her in the special education programme in a government school. Now, she goes to school on weekdays, and besides Care2Run, I send her for drawing and dancing classes. She really likes the dancing classes.

How did you get to know about Care2Run?

I found out about Care2Run through my friend Irene in August last year*. At that time I think you all were getting ready for the Bursa Bull Charge. She asked us to come and try.

We joined the practices but Yen Yen didn’t join the actual race because she didn’t meet the age requirement. After that, we joined again the practices in October for the Allianz-Pacesetters Relay in November. Yen Yen enjoyed that event and we came back again for the KL Bar Run.

* Irene’s son Zi Ren was also part of Bursa Bull Charge 2018

What does Care2Run mean to you?

Yen Yen likes being outdoors. She loves being active. At school there aren’t many opportunities for this. Yen Yen attends the special education programme at a government school in Selayang and there aren’t many activities for kids like her.

There are many programmes for high functioning children in the school, but very few for low-functioning children. As parents, we always want our children to be happy by getting them to be involved in more programmes. But there are so few opportunities.

Since Yen Yen and I have been coming to Care2Run, I can see how much she enjoys it. The night before a session, when I tell her that there is Care2Run the next day, she gets very excited. And then in the morning when I wake her up, she wakes up immediately. On schooldays, I have to call her five, six times and sometimes she will refuse to wake up. But on days when there is Care2Run, I only have to call her once and she is up.

She really enjoys being involved in the activities. She likes interacting and being with people. Everyone is very positive with her, and you can see that she really likes it.

I have to thank the coaches and volunteers. They are very caring, very compassionate and very patient with Yen Yen.

Before coming to Care2Run, I used to take my girl to the park to do walking and light jogging. She liked that. But she never did anything like running 3km.

What do you like about Care2Run?

I think Care2Run gives us as parents an opportunity for our children to be more active and for them to be in a social and supportive environment.

How can Care2Run be better and help other young people like Yen Yen?

I hope Care2Run has more activities weekly. Maybe even different activities like cycling. Cycling is a problem for a certain children, so maybe Care2Run can help in that way. Sometimes even just outings or trips help. You know, low-functioning children don’t have a lot of opportunities to even take part in trips.

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