Giving Special People A Chance At Life
FOR CHILDREN with learning disabilities, opportunities for academic or vocational pursuits are limited. The regular school syllabus does not provide for such individuals, and for the most part, they are left at the bottom of the class.
The situation becomes more challenging when they reach adulthood. At an age when they have to start earning their keep and take the road towards leading a life on their own, there are few opportunities for them to even get started.

The most important requirement for independent living is employment, but unfortunately, few companies are prepared to offer them a job. At the same time, most of them lack the skills to start out on their own.
The smoothies bar, located in the courtyard of Wisma Selangor Dredging on Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, sells a variety of fruit and vegetable smoothies to suit different blood types.

In just over a year since it was set up in August 2011, eight individuals have been given the opportunity to work at the smoothies bar.

Some of them, such as Ong Theng Yee, Rudy Chong and Tan Mei Yee, have learned some new skills, from handling the cash register to dealing with customers, and in the process gained a lot of self-confidence as well.
“They are assessed on a regular basis to determine their level of capabilities in various areas, and we have found that many of those who have participated in this programme have shown marked improvement,” says Ms Teh Lip Kim, managing director of SDB and the main proponent of the project.
“The smoothies bar is just a stepping stone for them, a place where they can learn at least the rudiments of the work experience so that hopefully, they can find a job somewhere else later,” Teh explains.
"The company has planned to start a mobile smoothies bar that will enable it to serve the various faculties within the university grounds. Once this second project takes off, there are plans to replicate the concept in various parts of the Klang Valley."

“The objective is to provide more and more opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities to learn some skills so they can eventually become economically self-sufficient,” Teh says.

Ultimately, she says, these individuals should learn all the skills necessary to enable them to live a life on their own. “They should have a job like the rest of us, perhaps find that special someone and get married. They should be given the chance to live normal lives like the rest of us,” she adds.

In less than a year, SDB has already won an accolade for its CSR undertaking. In June 2012, the company received the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Award under the Social Empowerment category for its One Two Juice project, making it the top CSR project in the Asian region.
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