Helping the Underprivileged Community
Johor Disable Children Charitable and Care Organisation is a home for special needs children. The organisation was established in 2017. Currently, this charity home is a double storey corner house that accommodates 20 beneficiaries with the age range of 2 to 34 years old. It provides shelter, individual care, health wellbeing, self management, training and education to the children with multiple incurable disabilities such as autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, mentality retarded and learning difficulties. Through the interview with the founder, we found that some of the children are having difficulties in social interaction, only 6 of them who are having learning difficulties and ADHD are receiving formal special education in school. These children are lacking physical activities due to insufficient equipment and conducive outdoor environment . They only have physiotherapy activities twice a week. This may not be sufficient to benefit their health therapy conditions. Besides that, in order to support their growth development, there is a sensory room in the special children's home. However, this sensory room is only equipped with limited equipment and instruments. Furthermore, the founder hopes that the children can get vocational training so that they can become more independent and able to contribute back to society. Hence, we hope that we can apply knowledge in landscape architecture to improve the occupational training environment in solving current problems. We proposed to enhance the landscape of the special children home so that the outdoor area can provide therapeutic and healing to the children.
Overview of Issue / Background
Johor Disable Children Charitable and Care Organisation is a home for special needs children. The organisation was established in 2017. Currently, this charity home is a double storey corner house that accommodates 20 beneficiaries with the age range of 2 to 34 years old. It provides shelter, individual care, health wellbeing, self management, training and education to the children with multiple incurable disabilities such as autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, mentality retarded and learning difficulties.
Through the interview with the founder, we found that some of the children are having difficulties in social interaction, only 6 of them who are having learning difficulties and ADHD are receiving formal special education in school. These children are lacking physical activities due to insufficient equipment and conducive outdoor environment . They only have physiotherapy activities twice a week. This may not be sufficient to benefit their health therapy conditions. Besides that, in order to support their growth development, there is a sensory room in the special children's home. However, this sensory room is only equipped with limited equipment and instruments. Furthermore, the founder hopes that the children can get vocational training so that they can become more independent and able to contribute back to society.
Hence, we hope that we can apply knowledge in landscape architecture to improve the occupational training environment in solving current problems. We proposed to enhance the landscape of the special children home so that the outdoor area can provide therapeutic and healing to the children.
Project Objectives (Vision & Mission)
This community project is to provide happiness and contribution to implement a landscape therapeutic.
- To create a conducive outdoor learning and playing environment for the special need children
- To give sensory stimulation to the children through therapeutic landscape elements in order to support their physical growth development.
- To maximise the use of the outdoor area for physical activities and training.
- To give and raise concern about the special needs childrenthrough awareness campaigns in our social media and word of mouth.
Project Details (Activities and Tasks)
Site visit, Appraisal and Research phase
- Gather the information related to the special needs children to understand their needs, behaviours, difficulties, learning method etc.so that we can integrate them in the design
- Find related reference studies
- Site visit to understand the condition of the special children home and the preference of the children to facilitate our design process
Design Development phase
- Brainstorming design ideas
- Develop conceptual design and get advice from supervisor
- Finalise design plan of therapeutic landscape
Construction and Implementation phase
- purchase materials
- construct the landscape elements (sensory wall)
- involve the children in certain part of play structure construction process
Expected Project Result & Outcomes
- The childrens have a pleasant and greenery outdoor learning environment with suitable equipment to learn and grow.
A platform is provided for the children to develop themselves through informal learning skill.The children may also gain healing effects through the outdoor playing and learning process. For instance, the sensory wall is able to give a sense of calming through the soothing sound and relaxing textures.
- The childrens can learn and develop their fine and sensory psychomotor skills through the sensory walls and sport equipment
The elements on the sensory wall can act as the learning and developmental tools for the children which can increase their physical strength and address some of their physical issues.
- The green outdoor space is provided for their daily activities.
The children have the opportunities to explore and get close to nature in a safe environment. This also encourages them to carry out more physical activities in order to improve their overall well-being.
- Public awareness towards the special needs community increased.
Awareness campaigns about the needs and conditions of the special needs community will spread through our social media. Lastly, a minimum RM1000 funds were raised from the public and volunteers participated in our project.
0% of RM1.00 Goal
|University name||:||Universiti Teknologi Malaysia|
|Project leader name||:||Ho Jia Er|
|Project implementation date||:||2021-07-01|
|Location of project held||:||Johor Disable Children Charitable and Care Organisation 1, Jalan Keembong 45, Johor Jaya, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor|
|Beneficiary||:||Special children in the organisation and attendees of webinar|
|Number of beneficiaries||:||133|
- Project Goals:
To create a conducive and well-equipped outdoor learning environment for the special children to learn through playing while achieving the therapeutic function simultaneously. Besides that, through this social project, to raise public awareness about the role of the therapeutic landscape in helping the special needs community.
- Fund-raising support & Other external sponsorship:
- Faculty of Built Environment and Surveying, UTM
- Project Implementation:
- Project Flow Summary:
- 12 Jul - 7 Aug 2021
- Preparation of webinar and crowdfunding campaign
- 8 Aug 2021
- Webinar: Therapeutic Landscape for Special Needs Children
- 14 Sep 2021
- Received Grant from Khind Starfish Foundation
- 19 Sep - 9 Oct 2021
- Budgeting and purchased materials
- 10 Oct 2021
- Site clearance and preparation
- Engaged with special children
- 11 Oct 2021
- Construction of the frames of all sensory boards
- 12 & 13 Oct 2021
- Construction and installation of sensory boards
- Participation of special children in certain stage of construction
- 14 Oct 2021
- Site decoration
- Planting activity
- 15 Oct 2021
- Site cleaning
- Rearrange the layout of site
- 16 Oct 2021
- Engagement session with special children
- Interview the staff of special children home
- Photo session
- The high risk of Covid 19 and lock down caused uncertainty to our project’s implementation timeline.
- Budget control on purchased construction material.
- Work overtime on the last few days to accomplish the construction progress.
- Language or cultural barriers
We had a good engagement with the special needs children. The only difference is it requires more patience when interacting with them. They are happy with our visit to the children's home. The staff also treated us with food and beverages when we were constructing the sensory boards.
- Project Implementation Process
Overall what went well for the project was that each of our team members was clear on their respective tasks and this made the whole project implementation go smoothly and efficiently. Besides, the full cooperation and trust given by our partner, the president of the Special Children Home, gave us a lot of help and support for the project coordination. We were pleased that all the children and the staff were satisfied and happy with the project outcomes. Last but not least, Theraplay project successfully raised the amount of crowdfunding and at the same time encouraged public support and taking care of the special needs community and their needs.
On the other hand, it would be better if our team could have a site recce before the project implementation in which to have a better understanding of the site condition. Besides, we faced some difficulties during the sensory board installation as the existing wall condition was not expected. However, we managed to figure out another installation method to solve the issues.
The main goal of our project is to create a therapeutic garden for twenty (20) children who live in the special children's home. Hence, the therapeutic landscape design supports various daily activities, fun and play among the children. At the same time, playing the sensory boards gives children sensory stimulation, which supports their motor skills involving physical movement, playing together and performing a task.
During the crowdfunding stage, the webinar also fruitful the 113 attendees by providing insightful therapeutic landscape conception and function that integrated into physical and mental therapy for the special needs children.
Furthermore, through this project, a great opportunity to practice and experience what we had learned in the landscape architecture program subsequently knowledge application and contributed to the community. Simultaneously,this project can also be a benchmark for the readiness for the actual working process.
This project is our first attempt to interpret landscape architecture knowledge in planning, design and construction to complete a live project to help special needs children. The entire design process which is based on the site condition, the learning environment , special children development and needs to execute an impactful, sustainable and inequalities landscape place-making. Moreover, this project also encouraged people surrounding us to be concerned about the importance of the therapeutic landscape for special needs communities. In short, we plan to continue the Theraplay project and manifest on another site and build a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.
How does or will your project contribute to happiness? Short-term? Long-term?
Theraplay project brings happiness to the children of Johor Disable Children Charitable and Care Organisation to enrich their daily life. At the beginning of the project, we discovered that the children have a monotonous daily routine. Hence, we decided to make full use of the outdoor area of the Special Children Home by constructing a therapeutic garden and sensory playing equipment for them. Thereby, the therapeutic garden provides a safe, stimulating, sensory and conductive playing and outdoor learning environment.
On the other hand, the hardscape design of sensory boards further supports interactive learning through play whereas formal learning methods may be less effective for special children. According to a research finding, playing can encourage the development of children in their growth and our sensory boards function as a tool to facilitate their cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development. In addition, the sensory boards create fun for learning and even therapeutic processes.
In the short term, Theraplay project outcome is to support outdoor learning and playing areas. Whereas in the long term, this project can improve the physical and mental health of the children and provide therapeutic and healing effects.
Has your project changed the way you think about the world? How has it changed you?
Throughout Theraplay project, many unpredictable things happen, but there are always many people who fight and work with you along the way. From the early stage of the project, from grant application, proposal pitching, project planning, and execution, it was found out that surrounding people are always willing to help in achieving the goal and mission if they reach out to them. Along the way, we were inspired by the other selected teams as all of us as youths are working on something in different fields to improve and help society. If possible, we wish to continue contributing something that we know and are capable of to society so that some of the underprivileged community can get some warmth from the world.
“Words are just words without action. Contribute what you can and it probably will significantly impact others’ life.”
“Appreciating what we have and using that to lighten up others’ life because happiness and satisfaction can come from giving and contribution.”
“I think I received more joy than I gave.”
“Appreciate the opportunity given to help the society.”
“To me, the best part of happiness is making others happy.”
‘’There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing all the happy & smiling faces”.Thank you for giving us the opportunity.