SINGAPORE - This year, for the first time, activities targeted specifically at children with special needs and their fathers will be held as part of an annual celebration of fatherhood.
These include a baking workshop and an outing to Safra KidsAmaze for the children, while their dads learn more from a therapist about parenting a child with special needs.
The two specially designed programmes are part of a line-up of activities that will culminate in a Dad's Day Out event on Father's Day itself, June 16, at the Singapore Sports Hub.
Celebrating Fathers, which kicked off on Thursday (May 16), is organised by Centre for Fathering and DADs for Life, in partnership with Mediacorp, to raise awareness of the importance of active fatherhood.
Being a father to three sons, including a 15-year-old with special needs, is a "humbling yet fulfilling experience", said Dr Frankie Tan, a 10-year volunteer ambassador with DADs for Life.
The 48-year-old director of the Sport Science & 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, with all their differences.
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 Mrs Tan, was learning more about those needs and plugging into some of the existing support groups in Singapore, such as the Society for the Promotion of ADHD Research and Knowledge (Spark), of which she is now vice-president.
"The sense of acceptance and community was really helpful in encouraging us to not give up," she said.
Ms Rae Mok, head of events and partnerships at Centre for Fathering, noted that parent support groups in special needs schools are comprised mainly of mothers, who are often the primary caregivers of the children.
"Fathers of special needs children may not know where to seek support," said Ms Mok, who herself has a daughter with special needs. The specially curated activities as part of the Celebrating Fathers movement seek to provide a community for these fathers.
Said Dr Frankie Tan of his 10 years interacting with other fathers: "When fathers gather together, we share and empathise with each other, and encourage and strengthen one another."
Celebrating Fathers 2019 will feature more than 80 programmes for all fathers and their children, such as stand-up paddling, DJ sound mixing, and more. This year's celebration will also turn the spotlight on the role of mothers in supporting fathers, and aims to encourage them to show their appreciation for what their husbands do for the family.
For more information on Celebrating Fathers, visit www.celebratingfathers.sg