Special needs individuals are people who have an emotional or physical condition that makes them act or behave differently as compared to the average individual. For someone who needs special attention, one of their greatest challenges is to blend into society, as they constantly face discrimination, are ignored or lived in isolation.
While ordinary people have not been spared and many have lost employment during these unprecedented times, special needs individuals indeed bear the brunt of the negative impact of the pandemic – on top of the existing hurdles of workplace limitations, stereotypes as well as the lack of public acceptance.
As such, the private sector can assume a more proactive role by creating an ecosystem that is conducive for them to thrive, and by providing these special needs group or those with disabilities with learning and training opportunities.
To give you an idea, Selangor Dredging Berhad (SDB) has been spearheading various projects under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) umbrella since 2011, to support and provide the opportunity for people with special needs and disabilities. These programmes are tailored for the participants to learn skills that will prepare them for independence while providing them with a source of income and allowing them to enhance their social skills in the long run.
Recently, SDB collaborated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners in its latest CSR drive to create specially prescribed herbal and tea drinks, and nourishing soup packs that will boost a person’s immunity and well-being. Dubbed the One-Two-Boost, these traditional herbal formulations are packed by a group of special needs young adults, with guidance from appointed job coaches.
SDB’s CSR team works together with graduates from the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine and the special needs young adults to specially prepare the herbal concoction every Monday to Friday at Plaza 138, Kuala Lumpur.
Serving The Community And Societal Well-Being
Missing or reduced social interactions and altered routines, especially during the movement restriction periods caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can be very damaging for individuals with special needs.
In line with SDB’s sustainability commitment to embrace diversity, inclusion, empowerment and equality, the idea behind One-Two-Boost came about when SDB’s two earlier initiatives One-Two-Juice (a fresh juice kiosk) and One-Two-Wash (a car wash service) were affected by the Movement Control Order and the subsequent restrictions that were implemented since March 2020.
Not wanting these dedicated and hardworking special needs young adults to lose their job, One-Two-Boost was created as an avenue for them to continue working so that they can contribute to societal well-being through boosted immunity. The initiative was very timely, especially during the pandemic.
One-Two-Boost’s Immune-Booster series features soup, tea and drink packs to boost up the body’s immunity and protect against maladies. The Nourishing series consists of bazhen soups to increase energy and improve blood circulation flow. These immunity and heath boosters are made from natural herbs with customised formulations. To date, these herbal preparations of various kinds are sold in individual packets and in gift boxes to customers from all walks of life.
It is a win-win arrangement for the special needs individuals and the public at large. Taking proper supplements is vital to boost your immune system and guard against illnesses. For the young adults, it is the opportunity that was given to them to prove and better themselves that counts. For many of the special needs adults, they have found a sense of purpose by acquiring new skills and learning to work together in a team which eventually builds up their confidence.
In the end, our society should reach out and build a more inclusive environment for individuals with special needs or disabilities. We need to provide them with a channel that will enable them to learn and improve their social skills while at the same time, paving the way for self-dependency.
The goal is for them to obtain sufficient living skills that will enable them to become economically independent and self-sufficient, building up their self-confidence, giving them dignity and most importantly a sense of purpose to live a more fulfilling and rewarding life.
Note: The above commentary was contributed by Selangor Dredging Berhad.