Having a placid disposition such as Sherman Low, anyone would be quick to pass a personal judgement on the limit of what this young teenager is capable of with good support and I wasn’t spared of being considered as one such person.
The Low family came to know about Club Rainbow (Singapore) [CRS] through a recommendation via our satellite office in Kandang Kerbau Hospital (KKH) back in 2011. Sherman was 15. At that time, he was diagnosed with Neonatal Encephalopathy, suffering from epilepsy and the function of his right arm was not good.
Greeted with a warm smile, Mr and Mrs Low Kim Kai and their son Sherman were very happy to be invited back to CRS for a chat.
Sherman felt good to see that his humble contribution at the heart of CRS – the Reception area where he had jointly decorated the piano and the beautiful wall mural, capturing subtle attention of whoever enters the facility.
Mrs Low shared, “Before CRS, there was nothing for Sherman. We didn’t really know what to do for him in terms of his personal and social development.” and Mr Low added, “We do give him pieces of paper for him to do some scribbling and drawing at home”. Sherman would sometimes break down and cry, not knowing how to occupy his time. “This certainly made me felt at a loss because I wasn’t able to help him”, and Mrs Low shook her head as she relive that moment. She feels that CRS was the foundation which helped to expose her son to many opportunities for him to explore his potentials and to inculcate the importance of constant learning and self-development.
Recalling back together with the Low family on their initial encounter with CRS, was Miss Sylvia Mak. Sylvia, a proficient Principal Social Worker with CRS commented, “From the first time I met Sherman when he was 15, I knew he had great potential to be more than what others perceive him to be!” Subsequently under her persistent encouragement, Sylvia managed to convince his parents to take a leap of faith in their son; to invest in his future. She helped them with application for the CRS Talent Development Fund (TDF), a fund that supports our beneficiaries in their endeavor of pursuing their passion.
With the TDF, Sherman was able to pursue his first interest in a stringed instrument – the Ukulele but took a liking to the Classic Guitar through an introduction of a friend. He received his guitar from CRS, used it for his practice sessions and enjoyed playing during his cell group’s weekly meetings. The challenge he faced being a left-hand, his coach conducted lessons using his right hand but despite of such a barrier, he rose above the challenge and continued improving his skills and went on to perform at some of our concerts.
From then onwards, there was no stopping this young gentleman. It was as if he was scaling mountains after mountains, uncovering the many interests he possesses and trying out everything possible, disregarding his medical condition. He also dabbled with roller skates and rock climbing; even with safety precautions in place, both parents were still worried for his safety. At the same time, they knew that they had to let him go, allowing him to scale the heights and be himself. He was like any regular teenager of his age, facing the world with curiosity and unfaltering faith.
“My daddy and mommy are my greatest inspiration!”
As a returning recipient of the TDF, his interest took him indoors to the lanes of bowling pins where he received a customised weight bowling ball to complement his feeble arms. Mrs Low’s persistence of appealing to the bowling trainer and her son’s endurance, Sherman was able to build up strength in his right arm which later proved to be helpful in his career.
As the years pass on, Sherman took up swimming which was quite unthinkable for a person with a weak constitution but continued to push his limits. After training rigorously, he took part in the 9th Special Olympics Singapore National Games 2017 and emerged as the first runner-up. On this note, Mrs Low also took the opportunity to show her pride for Sherman by thanking him. Why? You may ask…
Before Sherman took up swimming, his father had never gone to the pool. And now with Sherman going for his personal self-training sessions, his father starts to join him and before long; the whole family find themselves looking forward to this activity as a way of having quality family time together. Well done, Sherman!
Some of the achievements he collected from swimming during his stint with CRS are National Inclusive Swimming Championships 2017: Gold Medal, participated in SPH Foundation National Para-Swimming Championship in August 2016. For now, he only swims for leisure but still continues to challenge himself by recording his laps during each session and occasionally getting into friendly competitions with his elder sister.
Most children have an insatiable desire to increase their knowledge through their parents and from the people surrounding them. Sherman is definitely one of them as he sought to feed his curious mind constantly and sees him venturing into the Arts. Mrs Low proudly shares that Sherman goes to Very Special Arts (VSA) where he was able to further develop his drawing and painting skills.
Over the past few years, Sherman’s masterpieces have been displayed at several Club Rainbow ARTitude+ exhibitions and one of his works (not shown here) was presented as a token of appreciation to the Singapore Turf Club in 2012.
As the family was reminiscing on memories, I was filled with curiosity “How was your experience with CRS like?” Mr and Mrs Low replied with gratefulness “It’s just too many unforgettable experiences to mention over the last six years. Family Day, Anniversary, TDF, Camp Rainbow, etc. and the list goes on.” However, one particular beautiful experience which they held close to their hearts was the Family Cruise organised by CRS. This was etched deep in their minds as it was the first time the whole family went on a trip together since Sherman was 3 years old. The cruise trip in 2011 was certainly a rainbow in their life; it brought joy and created many beautiful memories for them.
Apart from receiving educational and social integration needs for Sherman, his parents were also glad to receive financial support through various forms like subsidies, grants, bursaries and daily necessities from donations in-kind which help the family to deflate the cost of living to some extent. Most of the rations are sponsored by corporate partnering with CRS as part of their social responsibility to the community.
“Knowing I was going to graduate, I felt excited. However, after receiving the certificate of graduation, I felt sadness and a moment of emptiness because I miss CRS.”
Playing back his time with CRS, the joy he had during the various events and challenges he faced in his self-development journey. All the years of bonding with CRS family and now that he had graduated, he wants very much to be able to come back and support CRS. However, a full-time employment with the sheltered workshop by Bizlink Centre would pose as a challenge. Sherman’s wish is that he is able to come back to participate and perform in CRS events, to volunteer his hands, to give back to CRS community as much as possible. This is the only way he strongly feels that he can show his heartfelt gratitude and love.
Looking back on the journey both Sherman and his parents have come this far, everything was worth the while. Mrs Low strongly expressed, “It was all possible because of the core services (Educational, Financial, Social, Emotional and Informational Support) provided by CRS and firm belief of their staff. Not only workshops are relevant and affordable, CRS also offers financial support too.”
“Thank you, 彩虹俱乐部!”
“Thank you, 麦阿姨!”
(An actual account of Sherman Low and Family, one of Club Rainbow’s graduated beneficiary by Rachel Fernandez)
Some food for thought…
You are not defined by your circumstances;
You are defined by how you handle the circumstances.