She discovers the hidden talents of youths, one stitch at a time – AutismSTEP
Getting a job can be difficult these days, even more so for those with special needs.
For Faris Wong, who has autism spectrum disorder, finding employment in Singapore is a challenge as opportunities are scarce.
The 32-year-old had to stay home for quite some time before he joined Personalised Love (PLove), a studio in Jurong East staffed by youths with a range of conditions such as mild intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorder.
At PLove, they handcraft beautiful leather goods such as keychains, cardholders and purses.
Since starting work at the studio in February 2019, Faris has grown by leaps and bounds, his mum Hayati Buang told AsiaOne.
But working with people with special needs presents its own set of challenges.
The very first time she encountered a meltdown in her studio, PLove founder Yeo Hwee Khim was at a loss what to do. Fortunately, the youth’s caregiver was there to help calm him down.
“We’re not special needs-trained,” Hwee Khim said. “But along the way, we learn how we can avoid their triggers.”
When the artisans pick up leather crafting, however, challenges like these start to disappear as they get engaged in the activity, she observed.
How PLove began
PLove, which trains and employs about 10 youths with special needs, was founded by Hwee Khim and her husband Tong Cherng Yaw in October 2014.
“I was an architect and urban planner for over 17 years before I decided to take a break in my career to focus on my family,” she shared.
The mum-of-three found time to volunteer at a special education school where she met a group of students and learnt that they had limited opportunities for work and training after graduation.
“So, I thought of how I could make use of my design skills to help them.”
While providing jobs for youths with special needs, the studio has received a helping hand from Singapore Pools, which has housed PLove rent-free in its premises for the past three years.
This has helped to reduce the overheads of running it and allows her team to focus on training and producing the gifts, she said.
Hwee Khim, whose mother was a seamstress, was able to stitch her passion for sewing with starting a social enterprise by setting up PLove, which produces leather goods for retail and corporate gifting.
For full article, please visit: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/she-discovers-hidden-talents-youths-one-stitch-time