This winter, Barefoot Love collaborated with different families to create our SENsationally Created Collection cards. At the center of these families, all who are raising children with special educational needs (SEN), is Kimberly Cheung, a teacher and advocate for children with SEN in Hong Kong. Working in Hong Kong and from an Asian cultural context, children with SEN are often caught in a society that treats people who are different harshly, placing identity and self-worth in academic achievements. As a result, families experience academic and financial pressure in looking for individualized support that can help their child thrive.
Kimberly often encourages people to change their perspectives in how they can help children with special educational needs:
“It’s almost like when a person has nearsightedness or farsightedness. Everything you see is foggy and you go and choose different pair of glasses to help you see clearly depending on the environment. When it’s sunny out, you go and pick up a pair of sunglasses. When you need a book, you go and pick out a pair of reading glasses. When children with special educational needs see our world, everything is often foggy and it may not make sense to them. What we need to do as educators, parents, and friends is to walk with them and help find the right pair of glasses for them to process and see our world better.”
She continues to share that children with special educational needs have their own gifts and talents and is constantly encouraged by their perseverance and charismatic personalities that can make a difference in the world today.
Lavinia, parent of a child with special educational needs, shares:
“My dream for my son is for him to grow up and be independent, to be able to manage himself, have a family of his own and enjoy life. I love that he is a very happy person, who always smiles and has a lot of friends. He is very honest and does not give up easily and sees himself through his strengths. When I first got his diagnosis, I was very shocked and did not know how to respond, but through the encouragement of other parents walking the same road, my faith, and resources available, I knew in my heart he would be fine. I’ve learned to be hopeful and optimistic and to never give up. I always encourage other parents by telling them that things will get better because it happened for my child. By being hopeful and strong, your child will also learn from you to not give up and to keep trying.”
Cindy, a mother who also has special educational needs, adds:
“I encourage parents to come from a place of acceptance rather than a place of what needs to change or how my child needs to be different. Ask yourself not questions of what do I need to do as a parent to be better, but instead focus on what my child needs to thrive.”
At Barefoot Love’s Spread the Love workshop, we were able to create and encourage children with special educational needs and their families to create and show their creative side! After learning a little about colour and texture, they started creating and painting without any restrictions or rules places on their creativity. This collection of Happy Birthday and Well Wishes cards showcase unique personalities and hope to raise awareness about special educational needs in schools around Hong Kong.