When Xharene Angellav Ongko moved to Malaysia from Indonesia, she noticed that awareness and acceptance of people with special needs in the country was wanting.
Inspired by her youngest son, who was diagnosed with Central Hypotonia, a condition that impedes motor function, she founded Happy and Lovely Kids (HaLoKids) Therapy Centre. HaLokids Therapy Centre is a Non-Profit Social Enterprise that provides affordable therapy for children with special needs.
In countries where there is better support and acceptance for this minority group, we find that people with special needs categorised as High-Functioning are able to find work in large corporations, and have graduated with Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees in many fields. Within the Moderate and Low-Functioning categories, these individuals are still able to participate in society and find work in restaurants, housekeeping, and more.
At HaLoKids Therapy Centre, it is their goal to create more awareness and acceptance for this group.
It is for this reason that the centre hosted its first charity dinner at Berjaya Times Square Hotel on the 29th of November, 2019. This event was held not only in support of children and youth with special needs, but also served as an opportunity for the public to learn about people on the autism spectrum, their many abilities, and how they contribute to society.
The work and daily experiences of the HaLoKids youth were incorporated throughout the evening, beginning with a sensory simulation where the general audience was immersed in darkness, and loud street sounds played over the speakers. Guests were then treated to melodic performances by singer Umar Hafizah and pianist Clarence Kang.
(Savant pianist and Asia’s Got Talent semi-finalist Clarence Kang wows the crowd)
One of the highlights of the evening was the fashion show, where skilled designer Jay Kumar showcased spectacular designs featuring artwork by children and youth with special needs.
(Models parade down the runway in Jay’s fun designs)
Autistic artist Aveen from HaLoKids also contributed a number of beautiful shawls to the evening’s auction in support of the therapy centre. One of his pieces sold for RM100.
(One of Aveen’s many shawl designs)
Individuals within the autism spectrum are incredibly talented and skilled; they can become assets in the workforce if supported correctly. It is imperative that we as a community learn how to accept and work with these individuals. They are a part of our fairly large, untapped labour market and should be given a fair chance like anybody else.
A big congratulations to HaLoKids Therapy Center for putting together a celebration of differences! It was truly an informative and humbling event for all in attendance.
For information on how you can purchase these designs, visit Jay’s instagram page at @jkfasion.official or contact Aveen’s mother, Mdm Rani at 012-9756077.