Caption: Daanii (extreme right) sharing some happy moments with TYA friends
Daanii Shauqii was seven when he joined TOUCH Young Arrows (TYA). Living in a two-room rental flat in Marine Parade with his mother, Mdm Halimah, he was known as the boy who never keeps still. He also also struggled academically and had difficulty interacting with his classmates.
Mdm Halimah felt helpless as she could not manage her son’s behavioural issues. Despite the challenges faced, both mother and son enjoy a close relationship.
Caption: Dannii and his mother Mdm Halimah
When 33-year-old TYA volunteer Thomas Tan started coaching Daanii six years ago, he was determined to help him. After observing Daanii had a short attention span, Thomas thought of creative ways to engage him. For example, Daanii had to complete a simple task before he could take breaks. Gradually, as the task list expanded, Daanii started taking fewer breaks. Finally, after four years when he was in primary five, Daanii could sit through more than an hour of academic coaching without taking any breaks. It was a breakthrough!
“It is such a joy coaching Daanii. He is filled with so much energy! In my years of volunteering, I’ve learnt to see the goodness in a child - to identify their strengths and use them to motivate the individual. Daanii is a bright kid with an inquisitive mind. He is still learning and growing, and I see so much potential in him,” said TYA volunteer coach 33-year-old Thomas Tan.
Caption: Daanii posing with volunteer coach Thomas Tan at an award presentation event at TYA (Marine Parade).
Motivated to learn
Going beyond academic coaching, Thomas also befriended Dannii, slowly gaining his trust and understanding his motivations. He discovered Dannii wants to be a fireman one day to save lives. Thomas also taught Daanii how to express his emotions and the importance of teamwork. For example, the coaches would always remind Daanii to pass the ball to his team mates instead of running away with it when playing Captain’s Ball.
Now at primary six, Daanii has many friends and enjoys TYA's weekly club sessions. With better focus, he also enjoys reading and is a keen learner.
“Daanii progress is remarkable! This shows that with patience and encouragement, we can all make small changes in the lives of these children and their families no matter how difficult their circumstances are,” added Thomas.
At home, Daanii has also learnt to be more caring towards his mother. Mdm Halimah is encouraged to see her son improving in his social skills and making good progress in school, especially when he scored full marks in a recent spelling test. Daanii has also learnt to set simple goals for himself for his PSLE this year. Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, Thomas continues to coach Daanii online in his school work and constantly checks on him through WhatsApp.
Story published in 2021.