Youth with Special Needs Build New Futures through New YMCA-Inclus Training Series
Seah Teck Wee, 23, has mild intellectual disabilities. For about two years, he assisted his mother at her coffee stall, doing his best to help her with cashiering, serving drinks and washing dishes. Despite his active and friendly personality, he felt anxious and stressed during peak hours, and his hands developed blisters and rashes after long period of dishwashing. Due to this, they decided to have him stop working at the stall.
His mother’s work partner later discovered the YMCA-Inclus Training Series, and they signed him up. After eight weeks of training, he is currently undergoing guided interviews with potential employers in the F&B and hospitality industries.
The YMCA-Inclus Train & Place Series is a new 8-week training programme to equip persons with disabilities with vocational skills related to the F&B and hospitality industries, such as housekeeping, general cleaning, and customer service. Upon graduation, the programme also supports them through guided interviews and access to a network of partners, to enhance their opportunities for long-term employment.
“Teck Wee is very friendly. He always greets people when he sees them and likes to make new friends. However, due to his condition, he struggles with stressful situations. When he is agitated, he may start shouting or jumping around,” shared his mother, Mdm Ma Mya Sein. She said, “After joining this programme, he seems to have improved in terms of his mental health. He seems happier and is always excited to tell us updates about what he is learning, or what he ate during lunch break that day.”.
In addition to the training programme, his involvement with the YMCA of Singapore has introduced his family to other YMCA programmes for youth with special needs. YMCA offers various arts, sports, and community service programmes that engage and empower youth with special needs. Currently, Teck Wee is also taking weekly swimming lessons with YMCA Swimming.
“The training programme, along with the other activities he is being engaged in, has helped to introduce structure and routine to his life. It is also a good platform for him to interact with others and improve on his social skills,” she adds.
Apart from Teck Wee, five others have graduated from the programme, including those with intellectual disabilities, global development delay and autism spectrum disorder. The youngest of the batch is 19 years old and hopes to find employment in the F&B industry.
“I have high hopes for Teck Wee’s future. I believe that with patient guidance, those with special needs can learn, grow, and assimilate into mainstream society well. They just need a little more love and care,” said Mdm Ma.
“For the past few years, the YMCA of Singapore has worked closely with youth with special needs through diverse programmes, including arts, sports, community service and vocational training. They have repeatedly proven to us that with the right support, they are more than capable of rising to life’s challenges and to shine as brightly as everyone else. Through this programme, we hope to empower them towards independent living, while encouraging other organisations to give them a fair chance at inclusive employment,” said Sharon Chan, Division Head (Programmes), YMCA of Singapore.
Contributed by Sim Yu Xiang