THE BEGINNINGS OF A DREAM
Big things come from small beginnings and the same is true for GOLD. In 1998, a group of teachers from SMK Bandar Sunway and parents of the school students with LD volunteered to pool their time and resources to help strengthen the school’s Special Education Programme (SEP) for special needs students. SEP was in line with the Education Ministry’s Special Education Department’s initiative of providing a different curriculum and syllabus for children in need of special education so as to maximise their potential and achieve both economic and societal independence. The loose network of dedicated teachers and parents had limited funding to carry out their activities to strengthen the students’ programme. But their unwavering vision to help and support the students with LD pushed them ahead. They were especially concerned with the future of the LD students when they left school. What would happen to them? Would they be marginalised by society? How could they be productive as young adults and eventually become independent members of society? Generating opportunities for the learning disabled school leavers were crucial in further efforts to enhance their living and social skills, thus helping them to have gainful employment. Hence the idea for “generating opportunities for the learning disables” or in short GOLD, came about. This happened in the year 2000. GOLD began as a network of volunteers working together for a good cause.
The driving force behind GOLD set a clear-cut goal right from the start:
“To promote economic empowerment for the learning disables.”
The first step in realising this goal was equipping the LD students with skills that they could use later on in life to support themselves financially and socially. A specialised learning syllabus was created for them with specific emphasis on skills related to independent living and integration into society upon leaving school. The syllabus was tailored to enhance creative development and artistic expression instead of traditional academic achievement. The volunteers set out their plan of action in three phases.
PHASE 1: GOLD and KIWANIS
Laying the Groundwork
The success of GOLD from its early days to today is deeply rooted in the continuous support of the Kiwanis Club of Bandar Sunway. The groundwork began with the fund raising projects and donation by Kiwanis to set up physical structures and facilities for the development of vocational skills of the LD students of SMK Bandar Sunway. Using the donation, GOLD constructed two cabins with metal decks and a fully-furnished working area to kick-start the life skills training programme for the students. It was through these initial facilities that the GOLD students first learnt essential vocational and life skills.
PHASE 2: BAKERY & CAFÉ
From the Classroom to the Workforce
The second phase of the project involved teaching the LD students valuable working skills. Again with the help of Kiwanis, GOLD embarked on various fund-raising activities to realise the plans of setting up a Bakery & Café to serve as a simulated set-up in training LD students basic and commercial cooking skills. With about RM120,000 raised from the Eng Tay Charity Art Exhibition in 2001, GOLD refurbished an abandoned building within the SMK Bandar Sunway compound, turning it into a training Bakery & Café. In 2003, further refurbishment was carried out to improve the ambience of the Bakery & Café using RM47,000 received from the proceeds of a Charity Gala Dinner organised by GOLD and Kiwanis with the help of Prince Hotel, Kuala Lumpur and Silklot Asia Sdn Bhd. Part of the money was also used to buy some initial equipment for the Bakery & Café. It served as the place where selected students could learn to bake, fulfil customers’ orders and gain skills to use baking utensils and other kitchen equipment, as well as manage and maintain a bakery and cafe. They had a medium to channel their skills tangibly and productively through innovative simulation method at the café which was designed to mirror actual working environments. That training café became known as the GOLD Bakery & Café.
PHASE 3: ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
A New Beginning for a Better Future
Tireless efforts by the people behind GOLD eventually led to the setting up of GOLD’s very own centre at Complex 3C MPSJ in Taman Bandar Sunway in Petaling Jaya at the end of 2005. This was possible particularly with the help of Miss Mei Ho, then the Head of Sunway University’s School of Hospitality, who did everything possible to equip the new GOLD Centre with the necessary facilities and equipment for use by the trainers, volunteers and students. The centre embarked on an innovative project of creating supported employment opportunities for the graduating students of the Special Class of SMK Bandar Sunway. The centre’s Economic Empowerment Programme was formulated under the plan to turn GOLD into a Social Enterprise aimed at helping people with LD to have a sustainable future. The formation of the centre was based on the concept of the Waverly Industries Ltd, Australia/DAL Café where persons with LD can work and achieve economic independence with the support of the company’s management team. GOLD continued to collaborate with Kiwanis to support the students’ vocational and work skills development programme by finding work attachments and placements for them at Sunway Group. Next, GOLD was well on its way to achieving another milestone since its inception. In March 2011, GOLD was officially registered as the Association of Learning Disabilities Petaling District, Selangor (Registration No: 1184-11-SEL). With that, GOLD was set for a new chapter in its history of continuously nurturing, guiding and embracing the Stars of GOLD.
GOLD is an acronym for the vision and the principle objective of the Association of Learning Disabilities, District Petaling, Selangor. GOLD is the registered short name for the Association. Its Registration No: 1184-11-SEL. GOLD operates at Kompleks 3C MPSJ situated in the satellite area of Petaling Jaya of Jalan PJS 11/2, Taman Bandar Sunway, 46150 Petaling Jaya.
GOLD general objectives are:
- To reinforce skills learn during the school curriculum
- To enhance vocational, recreational and life skills training programs
- To initiate work and social opportunities for Learning Disabilities
- To involve parents, teachers, volunteers and the community thus creating awareness of Learning Disabilities.
In 2012, GOLD embarked on a program, to provide the graduating students from the Special Classes, SMK Bandar Sunway a Supported / Rehabilitative Employment known as Economic Empowerment Program (EEP) at the 3C MPSJ. Two full time facilitators were taken in to oversee the activities of the Learning Disabled Trainees (LDs) that has been accepted into the programme, which runs from Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Trainees are paid nominal remunerations and contribute to EPF and SOCSO.
The EEP was a precursor to Social Enterprise (SE) and in 2015 GOLD became a full fledge as Non-profit Social Enterprise, providing supported employment. The SE at GOLD featured the followings:
• Work opportunities in a planned environment
• Provision of income-generating work processes
• Inculcation of good work ethics and skill training
• Extracurricular activities for developmental & social needs
• Opportunities for work advancement with the ultimate objective to move on to open employment
GOLD 3C with its facilities also served as an effective centre for the Transition Program (Extended Education) for students of SMK Bandar Sunway special classes. The students spend full school hours in the centre for 3 days in a week.
The sustainability of GOLD’s EEP programme, is depended on various factors such as the following:
• Marketability of GOLD products, services through social procurements & business collaborations
• Successful sponsorships of fund raising initiatives
• Commitment of parents, carers and volunteers
Products of the GOLD such as the kindness cookies, ceramics, baking, handmade cards & notebook, special packaging / hampers etc. Our special project of “adopt a jar” and the kindness cookies was launched in 2015. Orders are most welcomed. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel No: 03 5612 4001 or visit us at Kompleks 3C MPSJ.
GOLD WON TWO PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS IN 2016
1. Social Entrepreneurship Amplify Awards
Social entrepreneurs can face a lot of difficulty raising financial capital. As part of the government’s effort to raise awareness and support social entrepreneurship in Malaysia, MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre) has been mandated to support the sector through a dedicated social entrepreneurship unit and fund of RM 20 million.
In 2016, Magic were providing up to RM150,000 each under the Amplify Awards to five Malaysia’s selected social enterprises to help them increase their impact through new business capabilities and improved operations.
After a series of selection processes and due diligence, GOLD was most fortunate to be selected as one of the five SE for the Amplify Award 2016. However this amount that was been granted would depend on the fulfilment of the timely deliverables of the milestones as per determined by Magic.
2. IM4U Best Volunteer Initiative - NGO / NPO / Collective Award
This award was opened to volunteer projects that demonstrate best practices which can be executed at minimum cost, replicated nationwide or even internationally and which strives to achieve optimum impact.Association of the Learning Disabled, Petaling District (GOLD) was selected as The Best Volunteer Initiative for the NGO/NPO/Collective category for 2016. Staff of GOLD should pat their back for good work done.
BRIEF DISCRIPTION OF GOLD
GOLD is a vocational training centre for secondary school graduates with Special Needs – the Learning Disabilities. Our core activities are the production of baked goods, ceramics, cards and handmade packaging suitable for corporate gifts, door gifts and ornaments. Through a supported employment environment setting, these young adults with special needs activities of measuring, sorting, collating, labelling, folding, mailing, sub-assembling and hand packaging allows GOLD to generate an income from contractual services with local corporate entities.
This initiative aims to help GOLD gain a regular cash income that will be reinvested into the Centre’s operating costs, better training services and increased job creation for an underprivileged community who will otherwise be unemployed and reliant on others for life.
The Kindness Cookies by GOLD is the product of hard work and expertise of young people with Learning Disabilities. Every Kindness Cookies bought supports their vocational training and living skills education, which allows them to live an independent and productive life