Our Stories: Enriching lives through art

Enriching lives through art

  #60Stories

Every Friday afternoon, Ms Bavanezvari Breonna, 25, begins her weekly arts and craft lesson virtually (due to the pandemic) with clients from MINDS Woodlands Employment Development Centre (WEDC). A self-initiated volunteer, Ms Breonna facilitates various hour-long arts and crafts activities from picture colouring to Chinese New Year lantern making for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (PWIDs). Outside of these sessions, she dedicates more time to conceptualise and plan these activities, including research, ideation, acquiring and preparing materials and liaising with the staff from WEDC. Although planning these activities single-handedly can be a time-consuming task, Ms Breonna looks forward to her sessions with the clients every Friday.

Ms Breonna on a virtual session
Ms Breonna meeting the clients and staff of WEDC for their weekly virtual arts-and-craft session.

She fondly recalls the start of her volunteering journey with MINDS, “Since (I was) young, I always had an interest in the special needs sector, but I never could find the time to commit to volunteering due to a busy school schedule. However, after graduating and finally getting my degree, I committed myself to volunteering, and approached WEDC to sign up as a volunteer.”

Various colouring images
Various colouring images

Outlines of images prepared by Ms Breonna and coloured in by WEDC clients

The preparation leading up to each arts-and-craft session for the clients can be intense work. It starts with understanding the clients’ abilities and conducting research on activities that match their capabilities. Advised by training officers from WEDC, Ms Breonna shortlists activities for the clients and begins preparing the materials needed. To ensure the clients’ safety, Ms Breonna cuts materials into shape before packing them into craft kits and sending them to WEDC for the sessions.

She recalls her favourite activity – a Christmas-themed arts-and-craft session she planned for the festive season, where they crafted Santas and snowmen using tissue rolls, coloured paper and markers. “With the help of the WEDC staff, I also surprised the clients with goodie bags. I remember everyone enjoying themselves, with huge smiles on their faces, and all the thank-yous that came after the activities – my heart just melts,” she recounts.

Group photo
WEDC Clients holding up the Santa Claus and snowmen figures they made over the Christmas-themed arts-and-craft session in 2021
Screenshot of a text message
A text message Ms Breonna received after surprising clients at WEDC with goodie bags

Ms Breonna attributes the success of the arts-and-craft sessions to the support she receives from the staff of WEDC. “Because the sessions are conducted virtually, I am unable to physically oversee the clients I am teaching. The staff at WEDC assist me by being there to help the clients understand certain instructions, handing out the appropriate materials to each of them, and helping the clients with the craft when they have any difficulties.”

Ms Breonna shares about her working relationship with Senior Training Officer Madeline Ho, who she has never met face-to-face due to COVID-19 safe management measures, “Madeline has been nothing but supportive. She guided me on the proposals and made me feel very welcomed as a volunteer with MINDS. I remember receiving a consolation message from her when I was unable to conduct a session due to personal matters.”

Since (I was) young, I always had an interest in the special needs sector, but I never could find the time to commit to volunteering due to a busy school schedule. However, after graduating and finally getting my degree, I committed myself to volunteering, and approached WEDC to sign up as a volunteer.

Bavanezvari Breonna
Volunteer at Woodlands Employment Development Centre

To Ms Breonna, volunteering is about going above and beyond the assigned task and bringing smiles to every person she meets. Through her volunteering experience, she has learned that PWIDs are often misunderstood by society; and she believes that they too deserve to be loved and to experience life fully. The smiles and cheers from the clients at the end of every session are things that Ms Breonna holds close to her heart, sharing that she hopes to continue conducting these sessions and surprising the clients with gifts to continue bringing them joy.

As MINDS celebrates its 60th anniversary, we celebrate our volunteers who have dedicated their time and skills to enrich the lives of our clients with intellectual disabilities. Be part of our movement to enhance the quality of life of PWIDs by exploring volunteering opportunities at MINDS.

Learn more about the supported employment programme at our Employment Development Centres here.

Be a friend of our MINDS community by donating to our cause here!

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NOTICE OF THE 59TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF MINDS: NOTICE is hereby given that the 59th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) will be held by way of electronic means as follows: Date: Saturday , 18 September 2020 Time: 9:30am (Registration starts at 8:30am) Venue: Online via ZOOM MINDS members will be receiving an email on the notice of AGM and are strongly encouraged to register your attendance to facilitate the verification process on the day of the AGM. For enquiries regardingthe AGM, members may email to [email protected] or call 849607358