“What’s next for my child?” That’s a question asked by many of our students’ parents and caregivers upon graduating from Eden School.
Autism is a life-long condition. It does not end at age 18. To provide the continuum of care for a person with autism and their family, Eden School started a service for its alumni to continue supporting our students with autism who have transitioned or are still in the midst of transitioning into adulthood.
Eden Alumni – First Steps
“Over the years, we have heard from many of our parents and caregivers how beautiful it would be for our alumni to reunite with their ex-classmates and share their joys and stories as they walk down memory lane of the good old days spent at Eden School,” said Mrs Jenny Lai, Principal of Eden School.
Mrs Lai continued, “In line with Eden School’s mission, this new service aims to continue to serve, especially its alumni who are left without access to programmes and services to lead meaningful, dignified and independent lives.”
It is envisioned that this service will meet the needs of Eden School alumni’s life-long learning journey in social interaction skills, while providing a respite for their families to reconnect, refresh and relearn autism-friendly strategies to continue teaching their child with autism.
The Role of the Community
Pivotal to the success of this service is the role of the community and their willingness to embrace differences.
As this was unchartered waters for Eden School, we sought the strength and support of Recruit Express, a leading regional recruitment consultancy firm, to be our first corporate partner on this adventure as we dive together into the unknown.
On Saturday morning, 3 November 2018, after weeks of careful and detailed planning by Recruit Express, 13 Eden School alumni members and their family members, accompanied by four Eden School Educators, set out from our Bukit Batok campus for their first inaugural outing to S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa, under the new service of the Association - Eden Alumni.
Led by Recruit Express the cohort took a mesmerising walk through the underwater kingdom, which houses over 800 species of marine life in various habitats. This was followed by a Spot-the-Marine-Animal activity conceptualised and organised by Recruit Express.
Not only were our alumni given the opportunity to reconnect with missed friends, they also had the chance to practise real social and community skills as they paired up with 35 Recruit Express staff, who supported them during this outing.
For Recruit Express, the climax of the outing was during the lunch session they arranged for the alumni and caregivers. Over lunch, they were able to bond deeper with their assigned Eden School alumni, reviewing the activities they participated through decorating and inserting Polaroid snaps into photo frames as a thoughtful event souvenir by Recruit Express.
“Watching the families interact naturally was very heart warming,” said Mr Rayner Kong, Vice-Chairperson, Recruit Express CSR Committee 2018 “Considering the constant stress and strain the parents and caregivers are put through, I expected that to show on their faces. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite the opposite.”
A big shout out to Recruit Express for sponsoring, organising and providing all the volunteers to making this milestone event a success.
Families that participated in this inaugural activity shared that they were happy to meet each other and were grateful for Eden School’s and Recruit Express’ efforts to put together this activity for their child and them. In fact, many parents expressed that they were surprised that Eden School and the community are still looking out for them, when they least expect it.
According to Ms Ivy Tham, Chairperson, Recruit Express CSR Committee 2018, this is “a meaningful activity supporting Recruit Express’ core values in embracing strengths in differences and respect for others”. It also gave Recruit Express participants a chance to interact with people with special needs and to understand them better.
What’s more, Recruit Express also dove deep and started a fund raiser, which saw over $19,000.00 raised for our Eden Centres for Adults.
The promising start of this initiative is heartening for the Association. We hope that as we focus on continuing to care for our Eden School alumni, aged 19 and older, the community will rally together and support us with the strength, resources and network to help individuals with autism in their life-long learning journey.