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Sharon Lee had always been passionate about being involved in charity and community programmes.  It was nurtured in her from young as she was actively involved in the Leo Club during her schooling days back in the 80s. Subsequently, this passion of hers came in very useful when she was gifted with a special needs daughter. Sharon managed to get her daughter educated but soon realised that once the special needs courses were completed, there were hardly any avenues for these capable individuals to be included in the mainstream workforce. Inevitably this bleak future of not having any opportunity to use their skills after attending the courses made them feel left out and useless. This resulted in Sharon putting on her thinking cap to brainstorm ways to deal with this unfortunate reality; her goal was to create a platform providing employment opportunities to special needs individuals, especially those interested in the culinary arts. Back in mid-2016, the idea of Tender Hearts, a catering business run by special needs adults was created. It started informally and soon Sharon managed to get the social enterprise sorted and registered it in December 2016. Since then, Tender Hearts has grown from strength to strength and moved from just opening pop up stands and small catering jobs to making thousands of their signature chocolate chip cookies for large corporate bodies. Early this year, Sharon decided to take Tender Hearts to the next level and create a permanent venue for the team to ‘anchor’ and hire members of the special needs community on a regular basis. Thus was born the Tender Hearts café in April 2018. The cafe is run by Sharon, a group of parents of special needs children and special needs youth with autism and Down Syndrome. This not only provided some stability to the organisation but also continuous employment for the special needs adults. ‘The café acts as a training centre and future employment place for this pioneer group of special needs adults and will slowly bring in more special needs adults,’ elaborates Sharon. Sharon encourages everyone to be more inclusive towards the special needs community and more importantly to include them into the workforce as they too deserve equal rights and opportunities. She is also grateful to the backing of the Make It Right Movement powered by Brickfields Asia College, which has been very supportive towards helping with the opening of the café and in the design of the menu and brochure. Besides that, the Make It Right Movement has also been sourcing for catering gigs for the café to great success. Tender Hearts café is located at Lot 2.17, Level 2 of Summit USJ in Petaling Jaya. The café has a regular menu and a daily special menu. All the food has a home-cooked vibe with a simple but delicious range of dessert offerings too. Within three months of its opening, the café is breaking even, thanks to its catering gigs. It is hoped that with the support of the community, the catering and café can be two separate profitable entities. Feel free to contact them at  tenderheartssent@gmail.com  as they welcome any form of support towards inclusion, acceptance and equality for special needs.
By goodnews.com.my Reporters Imagine cycling for 72 hours, covering 1,000kms in all! After just ten kilometres, your muscles will be aching, palms will be numb and bursting with blisters, and your bum will feel like you are sitting on hot coal. But that’s exactly what 43-year-old Lee Yee Seng did – and all for a good cause. Lee is the president of Malaysia Lysosomal Diseases Association (MLDA), and he undertook the cycling campaign to inform and educate the public, media and especially the government, about the rare disease. A father of two daughters, both suffering from Pompe disease, an autosomal recessive metabolic disorder which damages muscle and nerve cells throughout the body, Lee began his cycling marathon at 8.30pm on Sept 14 in Semenyih. Over the course of the next 72 hours, he cycled 1,000km through Mentakab, Kuantan, Mersing, Kota Tinggi, Skudai, Pontian, Batu Pahat, Muar, Melaka and Seremban, before completing the grueling marathon at Semenyih again at 8.36pm on Sept 16, almost exactly 48 hours later. He had originally planned to complete his journey in 75 hours but managed to do it three hours earlier, thanks to his grit and determination to succeed for his cause. Accompanied by a number of cyclists along the route, Lee’s effort has been recognised as the longest bicycle ride in the Malaysian Book of Records. Asked why he did what he did, Lee says he felt responsible to fight for the rights of all Lysosomal Storage Disease (LSD) children in Malaysia. He also wants to do his best for all LSD children, believing that “no one should be left behind”. Even though he had minor injuries on his hands, Lee says he was pushed by his belief to create awareness about rare diseases in Malaysia. He says continuous funding and support for such ailments is crucial to avoid death resulting from delayed treatment or treatment ceased due to lack of funds. As part of this campaign, seven videos of the Lysosomal Storage Diseases (LSD) families have been shared in MLDA’s Facebook page to show the efficacy of Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT) for some patients who have already started the treatment as well as stress on the importance of early medical access to prevent death. “In 2018, the Health Ministry allocated a special budget of RM10 million for 10 LSD patients who started the medication in HKL and are progressing well with the ERT. However, ERT is a life-long treatment, with the patients needing continuous support in 2019 and the years thereafter. “We hope the government will bring hope to this group of patients by creating a sustainable medical system, which is the National Social Insurance Reimbursement Scheme. “Only this scheme will be able to protect all patients suffering from rare diseases and ensure no one is left behind,” Lee says hopefully. Along with his loyal bicycle, Lee was also accompanied by ‘Hope’, the sloth mascot of Pompe disease, throughout his 1,000km journey. For more details, visit MLDA Facebook here To follow Hope, visit Hope Travels – Pompe Awareness here
SpecialNeeds.com.my is delighted to invite equal opportunity employers to join us as we leverage technology for social good. Our mission is to transform the lives of people with special needs and those experiencing complex barriers to work. Using our employment portal, employers can browse resumes from our database, post job openings and register for recruitment drives. Symposiums and Workshops The need to attract, retain and develop an inclusive workforce has never been so important. Recognising the barriers that exist for disabled people in the workplace, and the simple adjustments that can be made can make a huge difference. That’s why we host symposiums and workshops designed to guide you with recruiting and retaining people with special needs. Recruitment Fairs We regularly invite employers to our recruitment drives to meet with eligible talent. These drives provide the kind of on-site context and face-to-face interaction that help make recruitment more productive and successful. Interested in gaining access to some of the top talent available in Malaysia? Contact us now.
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