SMARTER Brunei fun outing

AZMI ZAINAL

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

IT WAS a fun day filled with activities as children from SMARTER Brunei (SMARTER) were treated to an outing at West Park Kiddie Land at The Mall, Gadong as part of Smarter’s community adaptation programme.

SMARTER’s Deputy Director of Clinical Practices Malou Radovan said the programme is regularly conducted to expose (the children) to the different environments as well as to create awareness to the community in order for them to understand austism better.

“Normally, the kids will be invited to social gatherings such as birthday parties, so by holding (community adaptation) programmes such as this we are helping them to learn how to socialise with other children.”

Radovan added that the special needs centre has two themes under the community adaptation programme, namely “Relaxation and Recreation” where they hold similar activities to yesterday’s outing as well as a “Healthy lifestyle” theme where they take the children to clinics and hospitals to help them adapt to life in the community. Teacher and therapist Marvee Santos said yesterday’s outing included playtime activities where the kids played around freely, giving them the opportunity to mix and play with other children as well as “Circle Time” which is a regular activity conducted by the centre where the children sing along to songs and nursery rhymes and imitate movements. “Circle Time helps the children feel more familiar at the park, as it helps them associate their regular activities at the centre with their new surroundings,” she said.

She added that children with autism are very strict with their routine and so at least the familiarity will give them something to “anchor” themselves to the centre.

She continued that prior to bringing them to the indoor play centre, SMARTER held familiarisation activities for the children in weekly phases to help prepare them for the experience to reduce and address any forms of anxiety in the children. During, the familiarisation phase, the children were shown photos and videos of West Park and were also taken through a simulation of the indoor play centre specially created by SMARTER staff at the centre. They were also introduced to West Park and its surroundings in short time bursts to help them get used to the new experience.

Radovan that SMARTER currently has 115 students, with the youngest being two years old and the eldest 33 and is the only centre in the country that focuses on individuals with autism.

The Brunei Times

CHINA Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) yesterday held its first-ever charity activity in the nation by treating kids from Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei to lunch.

The lunch was prepared by Kokokan Restaurant and Catering at the SMARTER EDGE Centre in Kg Perpindahan Mata-Mata.

Welcoming the 12-member delegation led by its project director Yao Di was SMARTER President Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman, children and parents of the special needs centre as well as staff, including students from Australia’s Flinders University who have just begun their work attachment programme with the centre.

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the event, CHEC’s Administration Manager Charles Wu said that it was their first visit to the centre and the first charity activity by the company in the sultanate.

 

“We have been here (in Brunei) for more than a year and we thought of giving something back to the community. In addition, Brunei and China have established a friendship of 25 years now so we just want to contribute,” said Wu.

The contractor of the bridge — set to connect the Brunei-Muara district to the industrial island of Pulau Muara Besar — also hoped to give continual support to the special needs centre in the long run.

As part of their contribution, the Chinese company will be building a sheltered pathway that links the organisation’s administration block to its EDGE centre and roofing for SMARTER’s playground.

Prior to the hearty lunch, the delegation were given a tour around the centre and had the opportunity to mingle with the children.

The Brunei Times

Lunch treat for special needs kids

HRH Opens SMARTER Brunei EDGE Centre

JULIUS HONG

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

HIS Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik yesterday officially opened the Society for the Management of Autism Related Issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei of Early Development Growth and Enabling (EDGE) Centre in Kg Perpindahan Mata-Mata, Gadong.

Also in attendance during the official opening were Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi Hj Mohd Yusof, government officials and foreign diplomats.

 HRH was welcomed into the centre by SMARTER President Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman who briefed the prince on the history and achievements of SMARTER Brunei which was followed by a group performance by individuals with Autism.

 The event proceeded with HRH signing a commemorative plaque signifying the official opening of the centre. He then presented Certificates of Appreciation to sponsors that have contributed to the establishment of the centre including Yayasan Sultan Hj Hassanal Bolkiah, Baiduri Bank, DST and Great Eastern among others.

SMARTER Brunei also presented a pesambah to His Royal Highness before taking the prince on a tour of the facilities as well as to mingle with the students.

During his speech, Malai Hj Abdullah said that SMARTER Brunei is currently still facing financial challenges but was determined to continue providing quality services and assistance to individuals with autism and their family members during the economic downturn.

According to Malai Hj Abdullah, SMARTER Brunei was formed in September 9, 2001 and started as a parent support group for families with Autism. In 2003, they started the Early Development curriculum with 11 students and 4 staffs in a classroom at Jigsaw Primary School Berakas lent by the Principal.

Today, SMARTER Brunei has 3 centres, 40 staffs and 114 students. It has also been internationally recognised for its quality services by several organisation including UNESCO, National Autistics Society in UK and Flinders University among others.

 The SMARTER EDGE Centre had started its operation since May 1, 2015 before its official opening yesterday.

The Brunei Times