Promising Social Worker Award: She helped kids to cope with Kinabalu grief

Ms Grace Koh was one of the trauma therapists deployed at the memorial site for pupils who died climbing Mount Kinabalu in June.
Ms Grace Koh was one of the trauma therapists deployed at the memorial site for pupils who died climbing Mount Kinabalu in June.PHOTO: SASW

Trauma therapist among three winners of Promising Social Worker Award

When grieving children needed her most, she was there for them.

Yesterday, Ms Grace Koh, 28, was given the Promising Social Worker Award, along with two others, by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Ms Koh was one of the trauma therapists deployed at the public memorial site for pupils who died climbing Mount Kinabalu in Sabah in June.

"We had a counselling room and we also patrolled the memorial site to check on how families, students and members of the public were doing," she said.

She also helped explain the tragedy to other pupils from Tanjong Katong Primary School who walked into the memorial. She told them it was okay to feel sad and that if they did, they should speak to the school counsellor.

Ms Koh also works at Heart@Fei Yue Child Protection Specialist Centre, where she checks in on families who experience domestic violence and counsels them.

"I hope, with this award, we can raise the profile of child protection work," said Ms Koh.

The two other winners are Mr Isaac Teo, 32, centre manager of the Transition Plus Programme from AMKFSC Community Services, who works with families affected by transition housing in the interim housing estates, and Ms Kitty Lee, 29, senior medical social worker from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who works with diabetic patients.

The Outstanding Social Worker Award was given to Ms Lee Yean Wun, 51, principal social worker at Kampong Kapor Family Services Centre. She has been in the social sector for 29 years. She is also the chairman of the Committee for Practice Standards of Family Service Centres, and she was involved in the development and implementation of the Code of Social Work Practice to bring up the practice quality of the family service centre sector.

Each award winner received a personal development grant - $10,000 for Ms Lee Yean Wun and $8,000 each for the rest - sponsored by ExxonMobil Asia-Pacific.

"We are very proud of them, and their achievements serve as great motivation for others in the profession, to similarly take pride and excel in their careers. We are also heartened and encouraged to know that this year, three young social work professionals took home the Promising Social Worker Award," said Ms Agnes Chia, president of the Singapore Association of Social Workers, which organises the awards.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'She helped kids to cope with Kinabalu grief'. Print Edition | Subscribe