Of possibilities and overcoming hurdles in life. Perhaps the phrase sounds familiar, especially to the fans of Dr Seuss. The same phrase has been the core of our celebration this year for our annual EAP Family Day.
Once again, just like last year, we brought Family Day online! The pandemic did not stop our excitement nor stop us in making this as celebrative as possible.
We gathered together to celebrate EAP Family Day 2021 on 21st August. The day started early as we set up multiple devices, ready for the livestream. The anticipation arose for the production of this year’s play with the theme Oh, The Places We’ll Go!
As we huddled in front of the screens, multiple online meeting rooms were opened just to connect with the team virtually. As promised, the livestream of the production started at 10 o’clock. Instantly, our attention was caught.
The production was about the journey of a group of travellers visiting the seven continents of the world. The travellers meet different people (or “animals”!) and experience different cultures in Antarctica, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Africa and Australia, before returning to Malaysia. In the play, our amazing kiddos showcased their talents in dancing, catwalking, playing music, art and craft, using multiple modes to communicate, and even acting! Throughout the play, we were all amazed by the kiddo’s performance and quality of production, and it definitely was nothing lesser than a stage play we used to have in the past years.
The play also featured two late passengers who weren’t able to board the airplane on time together with the others. Instead, they decided to part ways and find different routes to catch up with the group. As they tried different modes of transportation and routes, they experienced more and more challenges, where they found themselves stranded in different places. No matter how hard they tried, they were one step behind and weren’t able to catch up. They made different decisions and were forced to be outside of their comfort zone as they continued with the journey.
Luckily enough, they were able to intercept the group, reuniting with them as they arrived at the last stop of the journey together. They had a moment to celebrate that they managed to reach the destination together even though they didn’t follow the same route as the other travellers. They tried their best finding alternative ways and eventually came up with their own experiences on their stops and that was just as meaningful.
This representation applies for children in general, as they grow up. Admittedly, this is more relevant to kids with autism or any other condition. Even if they are not like others as they might take longer to get where they need to be, their journeys are equally precious. Working with children with autism could not be compared to actually raising one. We honour all the effort, love and patience that their families pour in as they care and raise their children. We witnessed how families have gone to great lengths in their effort and support, which enabled their children to keep going and keep progressing. It is the love of parents, siblings and family members that bloom the seed of hope.
We dedicated a part of the production to celebrate each of our children, sharing one of the most remarkable progress that they have made yet and embracing all the hardships that they went through. Each child has their own unique journey that deserves to be acknowledged and we are honoured to be part of that progress.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy.
You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans.
The Michelangelo David.
The gondolas in Venice.
You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.
It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.
You pack your bags and off you go.
Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says,
“Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy!
I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan.
They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around… and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills… and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things… about Holland.
Behind the Scenes
The pandemic situation this year increased the overall level of challenge to create a successful production.
It was definitely not easy but also a fun ride for all of us. There were many hilarious moments behind the scenes while the recordings were taken and the bloopers released during the credits got all of us laughing. It was definitely one of the highlights of the wonderful memories we had working with our children.
In making the celebration more exciting, we delivered gift boxes to all families where they can experience the adventure of going around the world first-hand. The box was filled with different toys and activities that represented each continent, and the children had a great time with it!
As for the team, the celebration continued post-event and the team was greeted with a pleasant surprise! Our two amazing pilots, Neeshallini and Tiffany, known for their hilarious jokes and attractive accents made a comeback from our Annual Dinner with the same theme, last December. The celebration was to honour the Family Day team, led by Evie Tan and Darshinaa Velavan, with the help of Shan, Grace and Abel from the Stories team, as well as the whole EAP team that made the Family Day production possible!
All in all, we were happy to end the celebration with smiles and laughter. It was a great day filled with laughter and it has been such an honour for us to stand together with the families, as we watch the children progress to the best of their potential.
After all, it’s the journey that matters most and not the destination. We celebrate each and every achievement and milestones of the children along the way!
Check out our EAP Family Day 2021 Highlight Video!
“You’re off to great places! Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”
-Dr. Seuss <Oh, the Places You’ll Go!>