Our Volunteering Experience at SPD

Esha packing goodie bags for the children.

Volunteers play an important role in enriching the lives of others. Esha Sharan, a 15-year-old student from Overseas Family School, shares with us her experience volunteering at SPD’s Building Bridges EIPIC Centre along with fellow volunteers, Sneha Vasudev and Chew Wanping.

After my volunteering experience with children with special needs in India during my summer vacation, I knew that I wanted to volunteer again in Singapore as the sense of satisfaction and joy I felt from that experience impacted me profoundly. Recently, I had the chance to volunteer at SPD’s Building Bridges EIPIC Centre. Children enrolled in the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) are diagnosed with developmental needs and they come to the centre for educational and therapy sessions.

I volunteered for three weeks in July and August 2017 and it was an enjoyable experience.

I love working with my hands and had fun designing and creating props for photo booths, designing posters, wrapping presents and packing goodie bags in preparation for the National Day celebrations at SPD’s headquarters. I also helped the teachers create teaching resources for use in the classrooms. Not only was I able to make a difference to the children’s lives, I also got to interact with the staff and made friends with fellow volunteers.

During my volunteering stint at SPD, I met a few other volunteers and took the opportunity to ask two of them, Sneha Vasudev and Chew Wanping, about their volunteering experience.

Sneha Vasudev, 16, is a student at the United World College who volunteered at SPD for a week during her summer vacation. She has since gone back to school but is keen to return during her next school break and hopes to encourage others to volunteer.

Chew Wanping, 27, is a tutor and a regular volunteer with the Building Bridges EIPIC Centre’s Read with Me programme where she reads stories with the children weekly.

Here’s what Sneha and Wanping shared with me.

Q1. What prompted you to volunteer and why?

Sneha: I first volunteered through my school and have worked with pre-school children. Since then, I wanted to help children and I am glad that I found SPD and was able to volunteer here.

Wanping: I have been working with children with special needs for a very long time. As my mornings are free, I thought it would be a good idea to support the children in their reading and so I come once a week to read with the children from different classes.

Wanping reading with one of the children at the Building Bridges EIPIC Centre

Q2. What type of work were you engaged in?
Sneha: I helped to create teaching resources such as customising pictures for different children, and simplifying story books and games. I also helped with the preparation for the National Day celebrations.

Q3. What is the best part of volunteering?
Wanping: For me, the best part would be the interaction with the children. The children became more comfortable with me over time and more willing to read with me. I remembered during the first session, everyone was shy and reserved. When their teacher asked who would like to read together, all of them shook their heads and shied away. However, after a few sessions, some of them gradually opened up and would even volunteer to read with me, expressing themselves more and sharing their own thoughts and ideas. Having them warm up to me and flashing me their brightest smiles have been memorable.

Q4. What is the most challenging part?
Wanping: I think the most challenging part is getting the child’s attention. It is hard for them to sit for long as they may become restless. I overcome this by being patient with them and understanding their needs and finding new ways to engage them during the activities, for example finding out their interests, keeping the activities short and giving them stickers as rewards.

Q5. Is there anything you would like to add?
Sneha: If I had more time, I would love to have the opportunity to engage and spend more time with the children.

Wanping: Every child is different and it is a new experience with each of them, but there is one thing in common and that is the satisfaction and happiness you receive when you see them improving over time.

Q6. Do you think your peers should volunteer as well? Why?
Sneha: Yes. I think volunteering is a good way to utilise free time and be part of a larger cause. It is good to provide help and see the changes you can make, no matter how small.

As for me, if given the opportunity to volunteer again, I will definitely come back and will also encourage my peers to do so as well!

We are very encouraged by their positive volunteering experiences at our centre. Thank you Esha, Sneha and Wanping for your valuable contributions!