Here is a day-by-day summary and photos!

June 5: Music and Dance with Hwa Chong’s Music and Dance Society

Led by the warm and energetic Chairul, Hwa Chong’s Music and Dance Society guided the participants through a series of dynamic movements: stretching their limbs, jumping on their feet, walking at different rates, flying through the air, running, and even crawling on their hands and knees. Some of the participants gamely followed Chairul’s dance moves that had them manoeuvring their bodies in diverse positions in drills with and without music. Other participants had their own moves in mind, which included jumping energetically in the air and lying on the ground, thus pushing the volunteers to keep up with these improvisations. It was animated session with a dynamic flow of action all around the room!

June 8: Making Windchimes with Mr. Moh & Ms. Mariah
(The Special People, 9369-9354)

At the Little Garden School, Mr. Moh, assisted by Ms. Mariah, guided the participants meticulously through a series of tasks in order to create a beautiful windchime with a terracotta pot. Individual packages containing the basic materials were prepared beforehand for the participants. With the focused assistance of the volunteers, along with parents and helpers, the participants painted the base colour of the terracotta pots. Next, they were given leaves for them to paint and make colourful leafy imprints on the surface of the pots. Then they decorated the dangling labels by writing their names and adding designs with markers. Finally, it was time to assemble the entire windchime by tying a knot on the string and pulling the string through the decorated terracotta pot with the beads in the right position. Voila — a beautiful decorative piece for the home or garden!

June 9: Frisbee with Hwa Chong’s Ultimate Frisbee Team

The Frisbee activity took place at the Hwa Chong campus on a sunny day, where the participants had a chance to release their energy by moving around on the grass. Some of the volunteers were able to to figure out how to get the attention of the participants in order to demonstrate the fine motor movements of throwing and catching the Frisbee. Before long, more than half of the participants were able to grasp the basic techniques and showing off their moves in style! Other volunteers accompanied some of the younger participants who were interested in running across the grass or visiting the campus.

After a lovely picnic on the grass, during which the participants enjoyed the snacks and water they brought, it was time to introduce the participants to the game of “Monkey”. The objective of this game is to ensure that the person standing in the middle and gesticulating wildly to catch the Frisbee does not get it. It was hard to teach autistic participants who have been well-trained in their work with teachers and therapist to respond to the person making animated gestures. Thus, the “Monkey” figure is exactly the person whom they would want to throw the Frisbee to! It was hilarious to watch one of the young volunteers playing the “Monkey”: she gesticulated to act like she was trying to intercept the Frisbee and then gestured “No” to the autistic participant who kept wanting to throw the Frisbee to her! Good effort!  

June 10: Making Paperweights with Mr. Moh & Ms. Mariah
(The Special People, 9369-9354)

Returning to Little Garden School, the participants practised drawing their designs for their paperweights on paper before they decorated the smooth pebbles to make paperweights. They sought inspiration from the booklets on drawings of cars and people, while others tapped into favourite images from their minds such as roller coasters and names of travel locations. When the participants had come up with their designs, they were ready to draw on the pebbles with markers. It was wonderful to see the participants completely engrossed in the creation of their masterpieces. One of our adolescent participants was so relaxed in the midst of the pebble decoration activity that he burst into song at the same time: all of us was enthralled by his spontaneous and exuberant performance! The final finishing touch of applying nail polish to the pebbles added a layer of protection and shine to the completed paperweights!

June 11: Drama and Movement with Michael Cheng
Applied Drama Practitioner & Facilitator (9380-3041)

The programme got off to an animated start, as Michael instructed participants, helpers, and volunteers to move around the ‘stage’ to shake hands and greet one another. Next, following Michael’s lead, participants performed a series of contrasting movements (big and small) with their whole body and faces. They would spread out their limbs to make ‘big’ movements or crouch down for the ‘small’ movements. Similarly, they would lift up their eyebrows and widen their eyes to make ‘big’ facial expressions and scrunge up their faces to make ‘small’ ones. The lively warm-up session ended up with everyone seated around in a circle. The participants took turns rolling a ball to another person, while practising making eye contact and calling out the name of the person they wanted to roll the ball to.

After the warm-up session, the participants learnt to dress each other up with colourful cloths, hats, and masks. Under Michael’s patient demonstration, volunteers had to resist the temptation to put on the different accessories for the participants. It was far more challenging to take the time to guide the participants in choosing the accessories and undertaking the necessary actions to dress up the other participants in their respective groups. In the end, the participants were all decked out, fit for a dramatic masquerade! The participants were then introduced to the storyline of the crying ‘monster’ (a volunteer was transformed into a colourful monster with a pink cloth draped over him and a gaudy mask, plus a “blue” arm) who needed to be ‘consoled’ by the participants with hugs because no one wanted to be his friend. One of our younger participants came up with the perfect solution for his dilemma by ‘unmasking’ and ‘unveiling’ him!

Before doing their review worksheets, everyone got to enjoy a wonderfully prepared meal of hot dogs, French fries, and rice chips prepared by Selina — mother of one of our participants and our host for the event. This was one of the four activities she hosted: due to her warm and generous hospitality, we consider the events hosted at Selina’s place as the 5-star version of the AMW holiday programme!

June 12: Football with Marc Amijs

Our football activity took place on a drizzly day. With Marc’s encouragement, the participants raced off to an energetic start, warming up by kicking the football from one end of the field to the other end. As participants streaked across the field in pursuit of the ball, volunteers and helpers also gave chase, while shouting words of encouragement. With the participants giving their all and getting a good workout on this massive field, volunteers and helpers could barely keep up with our fleet-footed participants!

Participants also had the opportunity to kick at the goal with a goalkeeper guarding the post. With some of the participants kicking real hard and others not really waiting for their turn, they had the goalkeeper falling onto the grass in his endeavour to keep out the balls coming at him from different directions at the same time! Finally, the participants also had a go at learning how to do the goalkeeper’s kick — throwing the ball up and following through with a high kick. Some of them got the hang of it!

Throughout this physically arduous activity, the participants enjoyed regular breaks. The apples and drinks provided to everyone were sponsored by Marc and his colleagues (a couple who also volunteered for this activity) from his workplace! Thank you very much!

June 15: Baking I with Jerome Poudevigne

The baking of madeleine, which involved eight participants, needed some strong organisation to ensure that the session proceeded smoothly. Led by Jerome, the participants were divided into three groups and rotated through the three different stations — one for measuring dry ingredients, one for slicing and melting butter, and one for cracking eggs. When all the ingredients were combined, the participants all congregated at one table to mix them with an electric whisk. As they waited patiently for their turns to wield the whisk, they were utterly mesmerised by the whirring motion of the whisk. The participants then carefully spooned the mixtures into the special madeleine moulds, with the volunteers working closely in tandem with their participants. Awesome team work, everyone! Of course, the session ended with yet another lavish spread for everyone at Selina’s home!

June 16: Music with Germaine Yong (8149-8234)

The music programme had the warm and cosy feeling of everyone singing around a campfire, with the participants seated on the carpeted floor in the living room around Germaine. Strumming her guitar, Germaine launched into the activity with a lively greeting song. The participants were immersed in a world of music and rhythms with the opportunities to try their hand at a wide variety of different instruments that were rotated between them. Soon, the living room was alive with the sounds of different musical instruments — handbells, drums, glockenspiel, guitar, chimes, and several other percussion instruments — colliding and blending in together.

Some of the participants played with tremendous enthusiasm and gusto. In other cases, the volunteers had to work hard to get the participants to play the music instruments in a more conventional manner. Still, the participants were persistent in interacting with the musical instruments in their own unique ways: one was hugging a guitar and leaning tenderly against it, another played with the glockenspiel lying down, while yet another alternated in his playing of the drum between the drumstick and his forehead! What they all had in common were the big smiles on their faces!

June 17: Functional Training with Sandy Snakenberg (9061-8118)

Held at the SOS gym, a functional training facility, this activity was particularly challenging for the majority of the participants who had not previously participated in physical activities. Coach Sandy and volunteers worked hard together to get the participants to lift 5-kg medicine balls and smashing them down on the ground; pull the heavy prowler with a rope; carrying kettle bells ranging in weight from 5kg to 20-kg kettle bells, etc. The activities required some customisation to take into account the age, size, and experience of the participants. The participants also had to get down on the ground to scuttle around on their hands and feet (crab crawl, elephant walk, and frog leaps). Some volunteers also got into the action to demonstrate the moves and motivate the participants!

Whether the participants managed to flap the battle ropes in synchrony, swing on rings, or lift the weighted medicine ball, one could not help, but marvel, at how they managed to rise to the occasion and pull off something that was harder than what they could be expected to do. Quite a number of the volunteers also worked up a sweat to help the participants achieve their best!

June 18: Making Aroma Dough with See Kuan Nee
(Havaroma, 9844-6629)

Under the guidance of Kuan Nee, the participants embarked on making three different types of aroma dough with corresponding essential oils: the calming Purple Dough (essential oils: Lavender & Eucalyptus); Attention and Focus Yellow Dough (Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, & Palmarosa); and the refreshing Green Dough (Peppermint, Patchouli, & Spike Lavender). The volunteers and helpers played an important role of helping the participants to put together the ingredients, particularly at the table full of the younger participants. They were especially carefully, as hot water was one of the ingredients.

While some participants were tentative about touching the hot dough at first, it was not long before it cooled down sufficiently for them to plunge their fingers into the dough and kneading it. The participants indulged in the massive sensory experience: rolling the dough into long cylindrical shapes, or pressing them down in a clump and pounding on it. The only problem was that the addition of the food colouring made the mash-potatoey dough look so enticing and delicious that some of the younger participants wanted to eat them! These participants also had the tendency to rip the dough into tiny pieces with their small fingers — it was quite a sticky doughy mess on the table and the floor!

The final products were quite professional looking, with Kuan Nee providing glass containers for participants to divide up the aroma dough they were making and sharing it with the rest of the participants. Thus, each participant went home with three types of aroma dough that they can play with for the next two months.

June 19: Baking II with Ivy Chew (9277-7531)

The final day — baking a sponge cake —turned out to be a small affair, with three participants dropping out at the last minute: two due to their aggression against the family members and another due to logistical issues. As a result, there was an interesting change of pace from the bazaar-like atmosphere of the first baking session to a more relaxing and cosy one. The attending participants got all the loving care and attention of Ivy, their volunteers, and family members. Due to the excessive manpower and extra ingredients, two volunteers also work together to make their own cake!

Ivy had the participants decked out like professional chefs with the aprons and hats. Whether they were motivated by the prospect of eating the cake or just loving the attention, these three participants were attentive as they went through the process of putting together the mixture. For instance, they sifted the flour carefully, took turns using the electric whisk to mix the ingredients, and then poured the mixture into the cake tin. While the cakes were baking in the oven, they were completely enthralled by the opportunity to combine the different food colourings to transform the pre-done frosting with their favourite colours! When the cakes were ready, the participants decorated the cake meticulously and thoroughly with frosting, squeezing them out of plastic-bag cones in which they had loaded the coloured frosting earlier. And then there were the fun final touches of laying rainbow-coloured sprinkles and m&m’s on top!

As one of the participants enjoyed a slice of the cake, before they were packaged nicely in cake boxes to take home, while the rest ate their snacks and fruits provided by Selina (our wonderful hostess), we were regaled by the angelic voice of our singing participant (see entry of June 10). His pure rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, with all the pronounced intonations, was a heartwarming finale for our holiday programme!