OCTOBER 2013

After a month’s break, “A Mother’s Wish” campaign is back! Sadly, but predictably, the Ministry of Social and Family Services has decided not to collaborate with me for the campaign in any way (more information about its response in the next update).

Despite this setback, “A Mother’s Wish” campaign is pressing on, thanks to the incredible support that we have received from family, friends, and members of the general public.

1. “A Mother’s Wish” Campaign Fund (as of October 16, 2013)

The fund stands at $14,057.72 (thanks to our receipt of the payment from the “Joy Truck” show, as well as the sales of my picture book and paintings by Sebastien, my autistic son).

We have updated Sebastien’s painting portfolios. Sales of Sebastien’s paintings have constituted the most steady source of income for us. In our November update, we will share our fundraising ideas and hope that you can help us make them come true.

2. Announcing Our Very First “A Mother’s Wish” Inaugural Holiday Programme 2013!

With the help and support of a fledging community made up of friends, caregivers, service providers, and volunteers, I am excited to launch “A Mother’s Wish” (AMW) Inaugural Holiday Programme with 50% subsidy from the AMW fund.

In adopting the holiday programme approach, we will be ‘test-running’ the AMW community on a small scale, which matches our limited resources, while stretching them on a longer-term basis.

Concise Overview of Holiday Programme, Dec 2013

Targeted Beneficiaries (End-Users): Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (Moderate–Severe, aged 6­–18, 6 end-users in total, only 4 spots available)

Dates and Timing: Dec 16–20, 2013 (10:00 a.m. –1:30 p.m.)

Programme Outline:

Monday, Dec 16: Academic Learning: Literacy & Vocational Training (Ang Mo Kio)
Tuesday, Dec 17: Creative Arts: Art (Ang Mo Kio)
Wednesday, Dec 18: Fitness: Functional Training (near MacPherson MRT)
Thursday, Dec 19: Vocational Training: Cooking (Ang Mo Kio)
Friday, Dec 20: Creative Arts: A Musical Experience (Turf City)

Costs (after 50% subsidy): $200 (includes screening)

Deadline for Application: November 10th

To read more about the programme and enrol your child in this programme, please click here. To learn more about the service providers, please click here.

Contact info (for application form): choo.kahying@awakeningminds.com.sg or 8163-4509

AUGUST UPDATE

It's been another busy month... 

Special Thanks to Larkspurs!

And this time around, I would like to give special thanks to Larkspurs, a group of Hwa Chong students who initiated the "Opening Hearts Changing Minds" campaign to help raise awareness and funds for "A Mother's Wish" campaign. Apart from inviting me to talk at the school, they helped to organise an exhibition of Sebastien's paintings, sold my books, and created badges, and sold iced gems to raise money. I am also grateful for the support of the Hwa Chong faculty who bought Sebastien's paintings (please check out his portfolios).   

Fund Update

Thanks to these efforts, as well as a generous direct donation to "A Mother's Wish" campaign, the fund now stands at $5,487.02 (as of this update we still have not received the $8,000 cheque from the "Joy Truck' show).

Purpose of the Fund

At this juncture, I still have not heard back from MSF or other related agencies. If nothing transpires from these negotiations, I plan to seek grants from the NVPC. Please write me if you have ideas for raising more funds. 

In the meantime, in order to stretch out the use of "A Mother's Wish" fund, while we still have no sustainable funding,I will likely begin with the rollout of a five-day, 3.5-hour holiday programme during the school holidays in December (Dec 16–Dec 20)50% of the costs of this programme targeted at 6 end-users (individuals with moderate to severe autism aged 6 and above) will be subsidised from "A Mother's Wish" fund. 

This small rollout will enable us to test out "A Mother's Wish" podular model that involves paying caregivers, assistants, and small-scale, but experienced, service providers for running group programmes. Moreover, we will be taking our end-users on public transport to cultivate their lifeskills and mingle with mainstream society. 

More details will be provided in early October, as the planning will commence in the latter half of September...

"A Mother's Wish" Spoof Video 

Each year, for Sebastien's birthday party, Jerome (my boyfriend) and I put together a recap of Sebastien's past year. For this year, we created a light-hearted spoof of "A Mother's Wish" campaign: a 10-minute film comprising video footages of Sebastien in action within the context of our comical 'speculations' of potential careers for Sebastien....

JULY UPDATE

Thank you, MediaCorp Channel 8's "Joy Truck"!

What a month it has been! Our biggest surprise was being contacted by Media Corps to appear in Channel 8's "Joy Truck" programme, Episode 8 (view it here).

Through this opportunity, Sebastien and I got to share our autism story and homeschooling journey, which led us to "A Mother's Wish" campaign that seeks to provide affordable quality programmes for individuals with moderate to severe autism. 

Sebastien's "Raw Art" Updates

As Sebastien's art is our principal source of fundraising, I would appreciate you all spreading the word about Sebastien's art and the key role he is playing in "A Mother's Wish" campaign. He is doing his part for his future!

We appreciate your support in helping a moderately autistic young man to be both an artist and a philanthropist who is donating 30% of the sales of the paintings to "A Mother's Wish" campaign! You guys are making this 'little miracle' happen!

Here are the latest additions to Sebastien's portfolios. For all the updated portfolios, all the latest paintings are inserted at the beginning of the slideshow.

Sebastien's art can also be found on the covers of notebooks that has been produced by a wonderful non-profit organisation called The Everyday Revolution (featuring art done by artists with autism), which can be purchased at: http://www.hipvan.com/collections/the-everyday-revolution. Sebastien is receiving a flat royalty fee of $200 for his art work in this project; he will also be contributing 30% of this amount to "A Mother's Wish" campaign.

Online customised card option (for just $10): This service is inspired by what I already do with Sebastien's artworks — inserting them into templates to create a unique online card for your loved one. Check out a sample here. I am certainly open to other creative ways that you would like to utilise Sebastien's art such as creating a poster. Do let me know.

Finally, for those of you working for large corporations that engage in CSR, please keep "A Mother's Wish" campaign in mind. We can explore different ways of raising awareness and funds for a good cause. Together, we can make Singapore a more equitable society for all. 

Thank you! High-Fives! Hugs! Kisses!

JUNE UPDATE

Update on Meeting with the

Ministry of Social and Family Services (MSF)

One of the interesting developments for “A Mother’s Wish Campaign” (AMW) — to promote affordable quality programmes for individuals with moderate to severe autism — was the dialogue that has commenced with the Disability Division of the Ministry of Social and Family Services (MSF).

In engaging the government in a dialogue about AMW, I am addressing a fundamental flaw in its approach towards organisations that provide programmes for the less fortunate, including individuals with special needs. Essentially, the government requires such organisations to be self-sustainable after 3 years, by which time all grants of any kind would no longer be provided.

Such as a system clearly has NOT worked, as it has led to the following adverse outcomes:

  1. Inadequate services;
  2. Emphasis of organisational survival over quality, with loss of quality solutions and wastage of grants;
  3. Inability to attract quality personnel due to low pay.

In order for the government to genuinely do its part to promote the dignity of individuals with autism (and all end-users), it needs to recognise that service delivery in this sector is a SOCIAL SERVICE, not CHARITY.

Here were the four central and interrelated messages that I conveyed in my presentation on May 6, 2013:

At the end of the meeting, I was asked to submit some figures for the costs of the programme (please check out the 24-page proposal that encompasses the current vision of AMW, which was emailed to the government on May 14). 

This division visited me at my home on June 4th to learn more about my homeschooling programme as an exploration of AMW community’s concept. As a dialog develops, I will continue to provide updates on the situation.

For a shorter version of the latest vision of AMW, please click here.

 

FEBRUARY UPDATE

Dear everyone:

Since the launch of "A Mother's Wish" campaign, I have been most appreciative of and grateful for the diverse responses and meetings I have had with dynamic individuals at different forums. Here is an update of "What's New" and "What's Been Happening":

1. "Speaking in Colors" : I have created this video as part of "A Mother's Wish" campaign (awakeningminds.sg) to promote greater understanding of individuals with moderate to severe autism. Inspired by my homeschooling journey with Sebastien, my moderately autistic son, it seeks to confront stereotypical conceptions of autistic individuals with an open-hearted and open-minded perspective -- there is more to these special individuals than meets the eye.

2. "Dignity of Risk: Realising the Potential of People with Autism (Moderate to Severe)" : This slideshow expands upon my vision of creating a community for youths and adults with moderate to severe autism in Singapore. Based on my experience of my homeschooling journey of Sebastien from age 9 to 16 (currently), as well as dialogues with others, I strongly believe that we can create a dynamic community that enables these special people to realise their potential through the creative use of our available resources and synergies.

3. Sebastien's Raw Art Series: Thanks to the generous support of a private buyer who wishes to remain anonymous, Sebastien has sold his first paintings!

For those of you living in Singapore, who are interested to see some of Sebastien's paintings up close and personal, you can catch them at ARTISM — an exhibition featuring artists with autism, organised by The School of Arts Management at LASALLE College of the Arts.

Exhibition Dates: 28 February to 8 March 2013

Venue: Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore (Project Space & Praxis Space)
1 McNally Street
Basement 1, #B1-03
Singapore 187940

In addition, six paintings have also been placed on display at Coach Sandy Snakenberg's Aspiring Goals gym: 01-02 Lion Building C, 14 Arumugam Rd, Singapore (near MacPherson MRT, Exit B). If you are in the neighbourhood and can drop by to see the paintings, please also take the opportunity to check out Coach Sandy's organic and bohemian gym. In the coming months, I will share more about Coach Sandy, whom I consider to be an outstanding service provider for autistic individuals and others with special needs.

4. Making some noise about "A Mother's Wish":

- I have given a free talk about the campaign and related issues at the "Diversability" forum hosted by Raffles Institution and received supportive feedback from the student participants.

- I have engaged in the SG Conversation session recently: it is heartening to learn that there are other Singaporeans who are also clamouring for a more humane and compassionate Singapore that takes into consideration the needs of the less fortunate among us.

To me, these dialogues with members of the public are also an important part of the campaign, as they need to understand that the plight of the autistic people should not be relegated to the niche universe of families and service providers; rather, the integration of autistic people is also the responsibility of society in general.

- I have also been speaking to service providers, identifying areas of synergies and forging connections, which is an essential part of my vision of a dynamic and cost-effective service delivery model that taps into the existing pool of available resources for autistic individuals and their families. I will also be putting out more information in the coming months and setting up brainstorming get-togethers for both families and service providers, if there is sufficient interest.

5. With the 30% contribution of the sales Seb's paintings, a handful of my picture books, along with contributions from some previous book sales, "A Mother's Wish" fund stands at: $508.56.

6. I am available to give free talks on "A Mother's Wish" and related issues about the integration of people with autism in our society in my endeavour to spread the word about this initiative. I am also open to other ideas and suggestions. Please write to me and let me know. In the meantime, please share this email with others.