Empowering The Powerless

Want to have a learning disabled-inclusive business of your own? Or participate in a run alongside persons with learning disabilities? Find out how now. 

When it comes to helping other, money always happens to be the easy way out. Want to feel good about yourself? Donate to a favourite charity. Want to ease that sudden guilt pang? Buy a pack of facial tissue from a blind peddler. Yet, little do we know (or care to find out) about the many other ways that many of us could contribute back to the society.

Dignity & Services (DNS), a non-profit organisation championing social inclusion of persons with learning disabilities (PwLD) have introduced many models that have proven to be successful in not only enabling the learning disabled lead a dignified independent life but being self-sustaining as well.

Options for Supported Living by DNS promotes better integration of PwLD into the mainstream society by equipping them with basic life skills from deciding on their grocery list to travelling with public transportation.

Following right after are the employment projects One Two Juice and Bake With Dignity, which allow DNS members who have gone through the supported living programme to work in favourable conditions where not only do their pick up job skills but also earn money of their own.

The best part about these modules by DNS is that they are replicable by anyone who is interested to emulate such programmes on their own in their neighbourhood. Playing the role of a facilitator, DNS encourages members of the public – not just community members with a learning disabled person in the family – to come forward and learn how they could run another One Two Juice of Bake With Dignity.

“This year we want to replicate the employment programmes. But in order to do so we need support from guardians or corporate members who think the idea is good and would like to replicate it. Then we could share with them our blueprint with the SOP to serve as a guideline. We would also provide them with more training for the modules including baking skills, job coaching, personal safety of beneficiary, basic business management, food handling cost, accounting, behavioural management, human resources, and the list goes on,” says Helen Teh, the Executive Director of Dignity & Services.

The organisation requires supporters to conduct the supported living programme first before emulating the business model as it is important to inculcate various life skills in the members as well as build a bond with them for better understanding.

There is also a sense of urgency, as the waiting list to join the Options for Supported Living programme by DNS and eventually working at the social enterprises is getting longer by the year. However, the organisation is unable to accept all the applicants due to lack of vacancies in the programmes and manpower.

“The leadership of the replicated projects will be by the person but they will be supported by DNS in any way we can. We actually do not want ownership of more outlets. Our objective is not to grow DNS but to grow the support for the learning disabled community so that there are similar models in various forms,” explains Helen.

For the learning disabled to become a member of Dignity & Services and join their programmes, an OKU card is not necessary, as the support staff will make the assessment as to whether they quality.

Apart from the module replication campaign, this year also marks the return of Everyone Can Run event for the third year in support of persons with learning disabilities. Started in 2016, the run aims to raise funds for DNS activities as well as promote social inclusivity of the PwLD. This 29th April, run alongside people of all types of capabilities at Central Park Avenue in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya for a good cause.

More information about the run will be up soon on www.dignityandservices.org. Head there to be in touch with DNS if would like to know more about their replication opportunities as well.

This story concludes our 3-part collaboration with Dignity & Services. Read first part here to find out more about Options for Supported Living by Dignity & Services and the second part here for more information about their employment programmes.

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Vimal Palasekaran

Vimal Palasekaran

Loud laugher. TV buff. Hispanophone.
Vimal Palasekaran

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