Very few stories about teenagers helping their community, are reported. So, who would have thought that a trip to Australia, and visiting the various attractions, would have inspired a teenager to be creative and think of a project to stimulate awareness of children with special needs?
This year, teenagers from the i-Innovative Gavel Club, decided to do something different to raise funds for a charity. Led by the president, 16-year-old Lea Ng Yong Ru, they decided to raise money for children with special needs, so that they would not be excluded from the experiences, which most other children enjoy.
In the interview below, Lea, who is also a keen musician, and plays trumpet in her school band and the Kinta wind orchestra, outlines the reasons for the club’s theme, which is society’s acceptance of body imperfections. She said that the people who offered to go bald, had their hair cut, at the Ipoh parade, on Sunday 20th November.
Q1. What inspired this project?
I visited Australia, last year, and at all the tourist spots which we visited, such as the museums and aquariums, we saw many gifted children on field trips with their schools, or simply having a day out with their families.
I didn’t realise the difference until after I returned to Malaysia; you don’t see gifted children in public places as often as in Australia.
Of course there are still gifted children, with families who love them, but the majority of gifted children end up in homes for gifted children.
Many homes struggle financially. They are unable to employ caretakers and provide proper treatment for the gifted children.
No matter how much funding the homes for gifted children receive, the children need love, family and the chance to experience life, no less than you or me.
This is why we decided to take the initiative to raise the acceptance towards gifted children, by our community.
There has also been an increase in suicide and self-harm amongst our youth, in recent years, brought about by low self esteem.
We hope to convey the message that perfection lies within imperfections, that it is OK to be imperfect, because that is what makes each of us unique.
Q2. Why go bald?
We decided to go bald as a sign of acknowledgment of our own imperfections, and to reach out to those who need our support. We hope to create a community which is more accepting of imperfections.
It may be a small step, in a very long journey, but I believe that it’s a start.
Q3. Did you set any conditions on participants?
There are no conditions needed for participants. As long as you have decided to join our mission of going bald willingly, we will gladly welcome you.
Q4. What was the response from the public?
Many people were really supportive towards our mission, although some of them were apprehensive about going bald and decided to sponsor someone to go bald.
Q5. What happens to the money you collected?
The funds will be donated to the Rumah Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Batu Gajah. (RKKKCBG)
Q6. Have you set a target for people who will go bald?
Our target is 100 participants. We also welcome people who will not shave their heads, to donate or sponsor some of the volunteers who are willing to go bald. We also welcome donations via bank transfer, for people who are unable to attend.
(As this goes to print, 88 people have committed to go bald, for this worthy cause).
Q7. What challenges did you meet, if any?
The main challenge was putting together a team, because it was hard to find a group of people who are committed to work together and make this project a success.
We had fun, because we enjoyed convincing people to go bald, which is quite a difficult thing to do. It is quite funny to see their reactions when we say we would go bald, especially if one is a girl.
We are all under 18 and did everything ourselves. We learnt a lot and we would like to express our gratitude for the advice and support of our club mentors Pak Peter and Mr. Daniel, and naturally, to all members of the Gavel Club.