Friday, September 14, 2012

A Silent Walk In The Night

FOLLOWING the success of the inaugural “A Silent Walk in the Night” in July 2011, organisers “Raise Voice@Dignity and Services” will be holding a similar event on Sept 22.

The previous Silent Walk took place at Bandar Utama 1’s Central Park and this year’s event will be held at the Taman Jaya Park in Petaling Jaya, according to organisers Rebecca Jane Thomas and Mettilda John.

The event, which will start at 3pm will also have a candlelit silent walk around the Taman Jaya lake at 7.30pm. The walkers come from all walks of life, as it is non-competitive and primarily contemplative in nature.

“The walk is supposed to be silent because we would like the walkers to contemplate and reflect on the lives, challenges and achievements of children with learning issues,” said Rebecca.

Brainstorming session: (From left) Vanaja, Rebecca, Heather (standing), Tan, Bernie and Mettilda planning the on Sept 22.

Brainstorming session: (From left) Vanaja, Rebecca, Heather (standing), Tan, Bernie and Mettilda planning the on Sept 22.

The 2011 carnival and walk was jointly organised by a group of volunteers, including Rebecca, in collaboration with Dignity and Services, the latter an advocacy group for persons with learning disabilities and special needs.

Mettilda, who has been running Dignity and Services for a decade, said the day’s event would be primarily aimed at boosting awareness among the public.

She said it would also be a chance for parents and families of persons with learning disabilities to learn that they were not alone, and that there are people who can help them and their special children.

“There will be booths manned by volunteers, professional educators and caregivers to advice families who have children or relatives with special needs,” she explained.

Dignity and Services, Mettilda said, aimed to teach such persons afflicted with learning disabilities basic living skills such as meal preparation, using public transport and even sanitation and hygiene.

“Most people with learning disabilities are shut in, or the parents are overprotective and cooped in. The problem is later, when the parents are gone and they will have to take care of themselves. If not, many are sent to old folks’ homes. And it just worsens their conditon,” Mettilda said.

“We are celebrating their achievements outdoors, and this also makes the community aware that this group of people exist, and we need to learn to better accept them,” said Mettilda.

The event is also aiming to raise funds to improve the facilities for the youths who come to Dignity and Services to learn basic life skills.

For details, contact Rebecca (016-220 7091), Vanaja Dhanan (012-219 8161), Bernie Charles (016-316 1396) or Michelle Tan (016-337 2242).

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