Happenings

Moving on from ‘a-d-c-b’ to ‘abcd’

Apr 2002    
SOH SHANG NENG Has overcome great odds.

Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre gives hope to young ones

SOH SHANG NENG could not contain his excitement. A big grin lit up his face. He had been selected to do the “Thank you” message for Mr Earnest Lau, who was stepping down as Chairman of Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre (KKFSC) Branch Committee.

Shang Neng was so proud to have been given the honour of making a drawing and writing a few words of thanks. The gift was presented last December at the Learning Centre’s graduation party, the place where he had been attending lessons for the past two years.

Looking back to just a year ago, such a simple task as writing a short note was not possible for him. Although he appears to be like any other 10-year-old, he has a tough struggle with learning to read and spell. Being bright and alert, no one would have guessed that he has a learning difficulty commonly known as Dyslexia.

The difficulties he faced were immense. He was much delayed in reading and spelling, often with persistent reversal and disordering of letters, words and syllables – for example, gge – egg; bleen – then; louus – loud.
Mrs Jade Gunn, a psychologist at the KKFSC’s Learning Centre, said that when it came to writing, Shang Neng was unsure about the direction of certain letters. Mrs Gunn explained: “Shang Neng has to make critical decisions even with simple tasks.

When writing the letter ‘b’, he has to decide where it should turn, to the left (i.e., ‘d’) or the other way, to the right? This, including countless irregularities in the English language, confuses Shang Neng.”

Indeed, Shang Neng has come a long way, with the support of the staff at the Learning Centre. Recently, to his mother’s delight, he passed his semester English paper, the first time in his three years of schooling.

Madam Yeong, Shang Neng’s mother, related how her son came to enrol in the centre’s programme for children aged five to nine who are failing English in school. Speaking in Mandarin, she said: “The Learning Support teacher at school told me about the programme. She said that Shang Neng would be taught how to read using phonics. I knew that my son needed help … private classes were out of the question as they cost a lot of money. With our household income, the budget would be very tight. Fortunately, my son has this programme to go to.”

Shang Neng, like the other 50 children who attend the programme, is an example of how a community project has successfully made a difference to young lives. KKFSC, where the Learning Centre is located, is a joint social concerns project between the Methodist Welfare Services and Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

For more information, contact the Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre, Blk 2 Kitchener Road, #03-89, Singapore 200002, tel: 6299-7662.

Charmaine Lim is a psychologist at Kampong Kampor Family Service Centre.

Shang Neng's "Thank you" note to Mr Earnest Lau. -- Methodist Message picture.

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