Celebrating Fathers in a special (needs) way

Couples sharing their parenting experiences at the launch of Celebrating Fathers yesterday. (From left) Senior parts officer Mohamad Umar Mohamed Mossudiq and his wife, Madam Nor Aisha Mohamed Jupri; Ms Kanjana Maniam and her husband, civil servant G
Couples sharing their parenting experiences at the launch of Celebrating Fathers yesterday. (From left) Senior parts officer Mohamad Umar Mohamed Mossudiq and his wife, Madam Nor Aisha Mohamed Jupri; Ms Kanjana Maniam and her husband, civil servant Ganesan Maniam; and Dr Frankie Tan and his wife, Ms Tina Tan.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

This year's activities include programmes for special needs children and their fathers

This year, for the first time, activities targeted at children with special needs and their fathers will be included in an annual celebration of fatherhood.

These include a baking workshop and an outing to Safra KidsAmaze for the kids, while their dads learn more about parenting a child with special needs. The two programmes are part of activities that will culminate in a Dad's Day Out event on Father's Day, June 16, at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Celebrating Fathers, which kicked off yesterday, is organised by the Centre for Fathering and Dads for Life, together with Mediacorp, to raise awareness of the importance of active fatherhood.

Dr Frankie Tan, a 10-year volunteer ambassador with Dads for Life, said being a father to three sons, including a 15-year-old with special needs, is a "humbling yet fulfilling experience". The 48-year-old director of the Sport Science and Medicine Centre at the Singapore Sports Institute said parenting is a daily process of growth and learning how to show the same unconditional love to all his children.

Dr Tan and his homemaker wife, Ms Tina Tan, 44, acknowledge that raising three sons, including one with special needs, is no easy feat. What was helpful, said Ms Tan, was plugging into support groups, such as the Society for the Promotion of ADHD Research and Knowledge, of which she is now vice-president.

Ms Rae Mok, head of events and partnerships at Centre for Fathering, noted that parent support groups in special needs schools are made up mainly of mothers, who tend to be the main caregivers.

"Fathers of special needs children may not know where to seek support," said Ms Mok. The activities in the Celebrating Fathers movement seek to provide a community for these fathers.

 

"When fathers gather together, we share and empathise with each other, and encourage and strengthen one another," said Dr Tan.

Celebrating Fathers 2019 features over 80 programmes for fathers and their children, such as stand-up paddling and DJ sound-mixing. For more information, visit www.celebratingfathers.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2019, with the headline 'Celebrating Fathers in a special (needs) way'. Print Edition | Subscribe