Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Launch of KAMI, a special playgroup for Children with Autism @ Masjid Kg Tunku, Petaling Jaya

In an earlier post, I mentioned a community project that I was working on, and I'm happy to announce that it was launched two weeks ago on 4th November 2017! 😤 It gives me great pleasure to introduce - KAMI Playgroup!

KAMI, which means "us" in Malay, stands for  Kumpulan Anak Autisme Masjid (roughly translated to "The Mosque's Children with Autism Group"). It's the brainchild of my friend Hasniyati, who works with Masjid Kg Tunku and is a mum to an autistic child. She got the idea to start a playgroup for children with autism, after hearing an radio interview by En Adli Yahya, the founder of Autism Cafe Project (ACP).

Our Special Guest, En Adli Yahya, presenting a speech to the mosque's committee members at our launch. Arif sat quietly for a few minutes, and then made his mission to explore the area, especially the sink behind the podium.

Pn Salmah giving her opening address at the launch.

With support from the Mosque's Head of the Education Bureau, Pn Salmah, Hasni started to find ways to bring the playgroup together. However, things didn't go so smoothly, as she had no one to assist her. Thankfully, fate brought us together and I volunteered to help her with the playgroup.

I did some research and put together a working paper for the project, as well as suggested the types of activities that we could do. After my first meeting with Pn Salmah and Hasni, we decided to just go ahead and get the ball rolling. In the words of Nike - JUST DO IT!

Teacher Alma, who runs Fun Factory (the mosque's kindergarden), very kindly agreed to let us use their space and equipment on Saturdays.
Not long after we set a date for the launch of this project, Hasni received a message from Excel Qhalif. They were willing to lend us one of their teachers cum occupational therapists for two months, so that we can learn from her hands-on experience. Alhamdulillah! 

And when I announced the upcoming launch of our playgroup on my FB page, En Adli messaged me to say that he would like to be part of it. Alhamdulillah!  So I wasted no time in inviting him, his son Luqman and the ACP team to our launch as our Special Guests. Things were starting to fall into place, like a beautiful puzzle 💙

Chairs all set up, waiting for guests to arrive. Fun Factory also has two classrooms that we will use for our the activities.

Our itinerary for the launch and Committee Members.

During my brief speech at the launch, I spoke about why this playgroup is so important:

1. Mosques can play a vital role in supporting people with autism and their families.
2. Children with autism need a safe and understanding place where they can learn through play and try new things without being judged for their unique characteristics and behaviours.
3. Play can help in the development of skills that can be a challenge for children with autism, such as: gross motor, fine motor, socialising, communication, cognitive, flexibility, emotional regulation and self confidence.
4. It enables autism parents to get to know each other and learn how to engage with their children through play activities. 

Currently, our playgroup caters to 8-10 families, with children aged between 2 and a half to 9 years old. Alongside the children with autism, their neurotypical siblings also take part in the activities, which run for about an hour. If the children aren't able to, or don't want to take part, they're free to play with their parents in the play area, where we prepare open-ended toys for them to occupy themselves. And whenever they feel like joining the group activity, they can.

Our playgroup is a pilot project that will run for 6 months, during which we hope that we can prove to the Mosque's Committee that we can do it, and that it is beneficial for all the families involved. There is a lot for us to learn, particularly through experience and this will help us to grow and improve. We need all the support we can get to make this a success and to keep it going :) Please send us your prayers and positive vibes guys!

En Adli talking to En Selamat, the Mosque's Nazir, and Pn Salmah after the launch.

Arif and his friends having fun exploring the Fun Factory's indoor play area :)

You can help!
Interested to find out more about KAMI Playgroup @ Masjid Kg Tunku, volunteer or make a donation?  Please don't hesitate to drop me an email at Stay tuned for more updates on KAMI Playgroup!

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