Opportunities for Interaction
Teenagers learn to be flexible and sensitive to others by interacting with people with special needs.
“When among their peers in the classroom, students do not have as many opportunities to practise being sensitive and less rigid in relating to others. Therefore, they gain invaluable life skills as they plan activities for people with special needs and interact with them,” says Mrs Lorraine Neo, Form Teacher of Secondary 1H from Raffles Institution (RI).
The class of 33 students visited COH’s Emmanuel Activity Centre, Toa Payoh (EAC TPY) on 29 August 2017. Organised as part of the school’s Values-in-Action* Programme, the two-hour session was a sterling opportunity for the boys to better understand people with special needs.
Plans and Preparations
The students started planning for the visit in March. Most found it highly challenging. Nonetheless, with guidance from their teachers, they prepared for the experience.
They began by brainstorming on activities that everyone could participate in. A small team went on a ‘recce’ trip to EAC TPY to observe the interactions in the Centre for a morning, decided on the activities, and held ‘dry runs’ in class to rehearse what they would say and do.
During practice sessions, activities were modified with the clients in mind. As a result, these preparations made the students more adaptable -able to think on their feet and modify their plans accordingly.
Action and Adaptation
On the day of the visit, the students arrived ready for action. Together with the clients, everyone enthusiastically folded and coloured paper aeroplanes, made bookmarks, and joyfully worked on small canvas paintings.
Whenever the students noticed a client struggling with an activity, they made adaptations on the spot, taking on a hands-on approach to help him or her complete the task.
Art Teacher, Miss Ang Tze Qi, was proud of how attentive her students were to the clients. “They were motivated to guide the clients throughout the activity. I was encouraged by what they did. It is important for our students to meet and interact with people outside their community.”
Opportunities for interaction among teenagers and people with special needs are precious, says Ms Judith Koh, Centre Head, EAC TPY. “Students are our future leaders. It is important that they become more aware of those who are less privileged among us.”
“Companies and organisations do seek individuals, especially those who are potential leaders, able to look beyond the self to think of the needs of others. Lessons grasped through community service will also give students an advantage no matter what their vocations in life.”
“No one cares how much you know,
until they know how much you care.”–Theodore Roosevelt
Lessons for Life
*RI’s Values-in-Action Programme sends students out for a day of community service at the end of Term Three each year
About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.