“Just because they are differently abled, it doesn’t mean they can’t have a normal, functional life. With this belief, I endeavour to help them fulfil their life dreams.”
Studying People and Their Behaviours
I’ve always been curious about human behaviour, and how people react to life events. As a teenager, this interest spurred me to major in psychology, and later, to volunteer to work with individuals with special needs. The combined academic and hands-on experiences gave me deep insights into their lives – including how they were sometimes discriminated against. This further compelled me to embark on a career in social service, where I hoped to help vulnerable individuals lead better, and truly meaningful lives.
Equipping Students to be Job Ready
In 2017, I joined CPASS, an organisation that provides persons with Cerebral Palsy and multiple disabilities the services they need to lead fulfilled and dignified lives. As a Job Coach, my role comprises of working with students aged 13–18. My overarching goal is to help them become job ready after graduation from CPAS.
Due to their conditions, my clients may struggle with everyday tasks, such as taking public transport independently, or going about their work duties. I’m always happy to help them overcome this. From conducting mobility training, to teaching life skills classes, to preparing them for work attachments, these aspects help my students become more confident and adept in their abilities. It’s a unique role. Every student is different and has an individualised learning plan designed by the school. With this as a guide, I would then work with the students, their families, teachers and external partners to meet their needs and goals of being independent individuals in society.
Building Confidence and Trust
Trust and confidence form the foundational pillars of allowing my students to be independent, and there are several stakeholders I have to work with to enable this.
From my students, to their parents, to their employers, it’s important that each of them trust my students’ abilities to thrive in their respective environments. It’s also rewarding to watch my clients do something independently for the first time. On the other hand, it also brings me great joy to see my clients’ parents surprised, with happy reactions when they discover their children’s newfound skills and abilities.
Seeing Students Grow
One of my students I had the pleasure of working with was John*. When I first met him, I found him eloquent and sociable. He was however, still a little shy and not entirely confident in his abilities. When he graduated, we liaised with a public transportation company to land him his first job as an service agent to help passengers top up transit cards.
While this seems like a simple task, there were several steps John had to learn. It was especially challenging for him because he has a condition that limits his mobility. The agreed duration of the job was only three months, but it was a significant achievement for all of us. During that short period, he gained a newfound confidence that encouraged him to pursue different jobs after his role as a service agent.
Today, John is a junior artisan at a leather crafts company and is immensely happy. The school was also very proud, and will be awarding him the Sustained Employment Award for having remained in the workforce for over a year.
When John was nominated for the award, my principal shared that this was a learning point for her. She believes that it’s important that we don’t limit our students, and always encourage them to try and succeed. Stories like this remind me of the impact I create in the lives of others, and how individuals like John may accomplish their goals and forge positive experiences for themselves.
Believing in Possibility
Despite their challenges, my students are no different from you and I. They have hopes and dreams, doubts and fears. Many of them also have a wide range of goals. Some may want to hold on to a job to support themselves, while others have plans to travel the world. In whatever they choose to pursue, I find it meaningful that what I do everyday has a positive impact on my students, and eventually, helps them to live fulfilling life journeys.
* The client’s name has been changed to protect their privacy
Angeline is working with her colleague in a project