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CAREcottage Feature – Crochet With Love: A Crochet Interest Group

CAREcottage Feature – Crochet With Love: A Crochet Interest Group

Crochet With Love
(Back row, from left): Caregivers Woon, Esther and Debbie with (front row, from left) Woon’s nieces, Lydia and Lavina, at the Crochet with Love booth at the CAREcottage Bazaar.

CAREcottage is an initiative by CaringSG to support special needs caregivers who have started enterprises to support their dependants and themselves.

This article was contributed by Esther Song, a caregiver to a son with autism, Sean Guoh.

During Covid, a group of special needs caregivers got together to learn how to crochet from another caregiver, Lavinia, as a means of coping with the lockdown and the pandemic.

This form of self-care was so effective that one of the caregivers, Cindy, initiated the idea of forming a crochet group, Crochet With Love, for caregivers to crochet on a regular basis for respite care and charity.

Lavinia and I supported Cindy’s idea and we formed the group. At that time, we did not imagine that we would progress to start a microbusiness, set up booths at bazaars and sell our crochets.

When Crochet With Love started, many caregivers expressed interest to join our charity efforts. We crocheted pouches, amigurumi and other designs to contribute to charities, both local and overseas, and the orders would give my son an opportunity to learn how to pack the crochets too.

Crochet With Love
Crochet smiley keychains for hospital nurses in Singapore
Crochet With Love
Amigurumi for SPED students in Singapore
Crochet With Love
Esther’s son helping to pack crochet gifts

In 2023, four of us (Cindy, Woon, Debbie and myself) took part in our first booth sales at a local charity fair to raise funds for the underprivileged. This year, CaringSG provided us with another chance to showcase our works at its first CAREcottage Bazaar. Hopefully, our story will inspire more caregivers to step up and join us in our craft, and in our love to share!

Crochet With Love
Crochet With Love caregivers at our first booth at a local charity fair in 2023
Crochet With Love
Crochet With Love with Mdm Rahayu Mahzam and Dr Lim Hong Huay at the CAREcottage Bazaar at SAFRA Punggol

Crochet With Love has grown into a group of over 30 caregivers, from beginners to seasoned crocheters. We are readily available to help our fellow caregivers in joining our crochet interest group and also to allow them to hone their crafts through exposure via charity projects and open markets.

 

Learn more about Crochet With Love:

Please visit our Instagram page @crochet_with_love_sg

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CAREcottage Feature – YoungStarSG: Handcrafted Cards and Orange Enzyme Cleaners

CAREcottage Feature – YoungStarSG: Handcrafted cards and Orange Enzyme Cleaners

CAREcottage
YoungStarSG caregiver Margaret Han and her daughter at the YoungStarSG booth, CAREcottage Bazaar on 17 March 2024 at Punggol Safra. Margaret’s son Cher Xuan is one of the youths with autism engaged by YoungStarSG.

CAREcottage is an initiative by CaringSG to support special needs caregivers who have started enterprises to support their dependants and themselves.

One of these enterprises, YoungStarSG, is a ground up initiative that helps youths/adults with autism to work from home, as a form of purposeful engagement and to earn an income. This article was contributed by Lim Wei Ping, a caregiver of a child with autism, and founder of YoungStarSG.

In 2018, my son’s SPED school was going to sell handicrafts made by the students and I was asked what Yang (my son) would like to make. I thought through all the possible artworks but had no idea what he could do at the level of his ability. As a result, I told the teacher that we would sit out this round.

It was at this moment, a classmate’s mother heard about this and offered to teach us die cutting, so that Yang and her son could create a handicraft together and have the means to make sufficient quantities collectively to sell at the fair.

After Yang tried making the die-cut artworks, I realised that if he could achieve beautiful handicrafts at his level, then other teens and adults with autism who were of similar or higher ability than him would also be able to craft and potentially develop even nicer designs.

I organised a group of special needs caregivers who were very proactive in engaging their teens and adults with autism, and taught them the basics. The group then learned together through YouTube and WhatsApp sharing. We started featuring their work on social media for sale and the rest is history.

Initially, YoungStarSG youths, guided by their caregivers, produced handcrafted greeting cards, bookmarks and gift tags for different festive seasons, be it cards for Christmas, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day, birthdays, Thank You cards, corporate cards, wedding cards and encouragement bookmarks.

Many years later, we met an orange enzyme expert and she mentored us in the making and launching of the orange enzyme cleaner range of products. The orange enzyme is an all-purpose 100% biodegradable cleaner made from real orange peels and naturally fermented for 90 days. It naturally cleans dishes, laundry, floors, kitchen surfaces, bathrooms, windows, etc and even humans and pets (dog shampoo).

With community and public support, we now have 15 families under us producing handmade cards and orange enzyme cleaners. Full sales proceeds go directly back to the respective makers.

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Corporate cards using various die-cut layered shapes
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Teachers’ Day bookmarks with die-cut leaves
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Labelling bottles of orange enzyme cleaners

In March 2024, we participated in our first CAREcottage Bazaar with CaringSG at SAFRA Punggol. It was a meaningful experience boothing with CaringSG – we had fun introducing YoungStarSG to the public and sharing about the special needs community with them while also hearing their stories. We are very grateful to CaringSG for the opportunity given to the special needs community.

When members of the public, organisations and MPs (Members of Parliament) tell us that they have heard of our brand name or have seen our work even before physically meeting us, it indicates that our autism advocacy efforts have paid off. We are honoured and grateful for the love from everyone.

To all special needs caregivers, I want to encourage you that neuroplasticity has proven that the brain continues to grow by use, at any age. Consistent engagement and exposure of our special needs child to new learnings will help them to improve continuously, even after they graduate out of special schools.

As long as you and your child are willing to learn and try, you are capable of creating beautiful works and bringing hope and joy to the community.

Learn more about YoungStarSG

Visit YoungStarSG’s social media pages to view stories of their special needs youths and handicrafts:

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Customise handmade cards from YoungStarSG for your special occasion
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Encourage your loved ones with YoungStarSG’s handcrafted bookmarks

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CAREcottage Feature – Crochet_Connectz: Handmade Crochet Gifts

CAREcottage Feature – Crochet_Connectz: Handmade Crochet Gifts

CAREcottage
Crochet_Connectz: Ling (in red), with (from left) her father, sister and husband at the CAREcottage Bazaar at SAFRA Punggol

CAREcottage is an initiative by CaringSG to support special needs caregivers who have started enterprises to support their dependants and themselves.

This article was contributed by Ling, a full-time caregiver to her son who has autism.

 

Hi, I’m Ling, a full-time caregiver and owner of Crochet_Connectz, an inclusive microbusiness that sells crochet, amigurumi and handcrafted gifts.

After quitting my job and becoming a full-time housewife to look after my son, his progress became my primary focus and I would do a lot of research and learn strategies to help him improve.

As he grew up and did not need my attention as much, I tried different things to find purpose in my life other than caregiving, such as working part time for a charity. With my colleagues, we invited volunteer trainers and organised workshops for caregivers so that they could attend to learn skills such as guitar, English calligraphy and crocheting, and also have respite from caregiver duties.

Being involved in the workshops was a turning point as I also started crocheting as a hobby. It was a skill that I didn’t know I had, and I was so motivated to learn different crochet patterns that I stayed up late at night to research and study them (as I was busy with caregiving duties during the day).

After many “practice crochets” to improve my skill step-by-step, I felt great joy when I could eventually produce decent-looking crochets. To celebrate my hard work and share my joy with others, I decided to feature my crochets and amigurumi (crocheted plushies) on social media. Friends requested customised crochet orders and soon after, I started a small business selling crochets.

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Ling, a full-time caregiver and owner of Crochet_Connectz
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Crochet_Connectz amigurumi
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Based on her personal experience, Ling shares encouragement to her social media followers

Looking after my needs to explore and learn had an unexpected benefit – I could also interact more with my son when I trained him how to pack and deliver orders. Through this experience, he has improved his organisation, fine motor skills, resilience and self-esteem greatly. He is particularly interested in the process of tracking orders and loves mailing packages to customers.

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Ling’s son making a clover charm
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Ling’s son preparing packages

Participating in our first CAREcottage Bazaar in March 2024

We were very excited to participate in the CAREcottage Bazaar at SAFRA Punggol and greatly appreciate CaringSG’s effort in creating this opportunity and supporting caregivers like us.

We prepared for the event and tried to cater to the crowd profile of SAFRA Punggol. We were very happy to see kids and their parents having fun playing with the claw machine which we brought for the booth.

I also enjoyed catching up with fellow caregivers of all the booths and our friends who came to visit us. Being able to also meet Guest-of-Honour Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, Dr Lim Hong Huay, the CaringSG team and all my customers face-to-face and receiving their support made all the preparation and hard work so worthwhile.

I cherish each opportunity to spread autism awareness, the importance of caregiver support and contribute to charity through collaborations with fellow caregivers and their special needs kids through my microbusiness Crochet_Connectz.

Learn more about Crochet_Connectz:

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CAREcottage Feature – ausomesuds_sg: Shower Steamers

CAREcottage Feature – ausomesuds_sg: Shower Steamers

CAREcottage
Caregiver Punitha Tjia and son Michael from ausomesuds_sg

CAREcottage is an initiative by CaringSG to support special needs caregivers who have started enterprises to support their dependants and themselves.

This article was contributed by Punitha Tjia, a caregiver to Michael, her autistic son.

 

Hello, It brings me great joy to introduce myself and our business to you. I am Punitha Tjia, the founder of ausomesuds_sg. At ausomesuds_sg, we specialize in crafting essential oil-infused shower steamers. Our mission goes beyond just creating products; it’s about engaging my autistic son functionally during his free time and allowing him to earn his own pocket money.

Our journey commenced in early 2022 when I began crafting shower steamers, with my son Michael eagerly joining in the process. Encouraged by his enthusiasm, I created step-by-step visuals and guided him through the creation of these essential oil-infused shower steamers. The positive feedback from friends and colleagues prompted us to establish an online business platform for Michael to sell his creations. Thus, ausomesuds_sg was born.

We are dedicated to continually evolving and adapting to meet Michael’s needs, particularly focusing on his sensory tactile and eye-hand coordination skills. Thank you for taking the time to learn about us. We are excited about our journey ahead and the opportunity to share our creations with you.

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Michael preparing a batch of shower steamers
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ausomesuds_sg Punitha, Michael and husband Johnny Tjia at CAREcottage Bazaar at SAFRA Punggol on 17 March 2024

Participating in CaringSG’s CAREcottage Bazaar at SAFRA Punggol was my first bazaar experience with CaringSG, and I learned a great deal, especially about booth presentation and effectively conveying information about my products.

I also felt overwhelmed by CaringSG’s support and efforts to help make my booth more attractive. Collaborating with like-minded booth holders was undoubtedly the highlight, offering me invaluable support and motivation. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to CaringSG for this opportunity, as I am genuinely thankful for the knowledge and experience gained from the CAREcottage Bazaar.

Essential Oil-Infused Shower Steamers by ausomesuds_sg

ausomesuds_sg has two types of shower steamers:

  • Relaxation Blend Shower Steamer: Infused with a soothing blend of essential oils like lavender and geranium, this shower steamer is perfect for unwinding after a long day. Simply place it in your shower and let the calming aroma envelop you.
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Relaxation Blend Shower Steamer
  • Sinus Relief Shower Steamer: Formulated with peppermint and eucalyptus oils, our Sinus Relief Shower Steamer offers natural relief from congestion and sinus pressure. Breathe easier and clear your mind as the refreshing vapors fill your shower space.
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Sinus Relief Shower Steamer

Learn more about ausomesuds_sg:

To place an order with us, simply visit our Instagram profile @ausomesuds_sg and send us a direct message. We will promptly provide you with our Google order form where you can find more details about our products and complete your purchase. We’re here to assist you every step of the way!

 

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CAREcottage Feature – The Shy Crafter: Polymer Clay Crafts

CAREcottage Feature – The Shy Crafter: Polymer Clay Crafts

CAREcottage
The Shy Crafter: Founder and caregiver Shylyn (rightmost) and her son Isaac (second from right) with family

CAREcottage is an initiative by CaringSG to support special needs caregivers who have started enterprises to support their dependants and themselves.

This article was contributed by Shylyn Tan, a caregiver of four children, including a child with autism.

 

Hi, I’m Shylyn.

The Shy Crafter was inspired by my son, Isaac, who was diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) since he was 6 years old. Over time, while facilitating Isaac to alleviate his sensory disturbances with clay moulding, I discovered my passion for polymer clay crafts in late 2020.

Our goal is to build a platform to bring about more awareness of ASD, support inclusion and celebrate abilities through our polymer clay crafts, featuring dinosaur creations by Isaac, together with my miniature food and floral wearables.

Having just joined CaringSG in January 2024, we have been warmly welcomed by all the CAREcottage members.

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Isaac and mum Shylyn from The Shy Crafter
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Isaac at the CAREcottage Bazaar, SAFRA Punggol

Participating in CaringSG’s First CAREcottage Bazaar at SAFRA Punggol on 17 March 2024

This is our first-time boothing alongside some experienced CAREcottage members. We enjoyed ourselves greatly and learned a lot from the other caregivers.

Isaac had the privileged opportunity to meet Dr Lim Hong Huay and Guest-of-Honour Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, who gave him encouragement and acknowledgement to his works, motivating him to persevere in his clay crafts.

 

CAREcottage
Shylyn and fellow caregivers Mei Ling from Crochet Connectz and Rachel from Gan Delights at the CAREcottage Bazaar, SAFRA Punggol
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Background: Shylyn, Isaac and husband Benjamin with (foreground) Dr Lim Hong Huay and her daughter Marianne at the CAREcottage Bazaar

Signature Creations by The Shy Crafter

Customers can purchase handmade polymer clay dinosaur creations by Isaac Chang, the resident teenage clay artist with ASD.

Customers can also choose from a wide selection of handmade polymer clay miniature food and floral earrings and accessories by Shylyn, mum of Isaac.

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Handicrafts by Isaac Chang, resident teenage artist at The Shy Crafter
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Handmade earrings and accessories by Shylyn, founder of the Shy Crafter

Learn more about The Shy Crafter at:

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CaringSG Seminar – Preparing for National Service (NS) for Enlistees with Special Needs on 17 Mar 2024

CaringSG Seminar – Preparing for National Service (NS) for Enlistees with Special Needs on 17 Mar 2024

Speakers at CaringSG's Seminar on Preparing for National Service, from left: COL (NS) Darren Tan, BG (RET) Ishak Ismail, PTE (NSF) Gabriel Tan, LCP (NSF) Joshua Yap and his mother Freya Lim
Speakers at CaringSG's Seminar on Preparing for National Service, from left: COL (NS) Darren Tan, BG (RET) Ishak Ismail, PTE (NSF) Gabriel Tan, LCP (NSF) Joshua Yap and his mother Freya Lim

Caregivers often face stress and uncertainty when their dependant goes through life stage transitions, such as enlisting in National Service. Hence, to empower caregivers with the knowledge to prepare for NS, we organised a seminar with SGFamilies, ACCORD, SAFRA Punggol and SPARK Singapore on 17 March 2024 (Sunday), 2:30 – 4:30pm at SAFRA Punggol.

Graced by our Guest-of-Honour Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Health and Ministry of Law, and also Board Advisor to CaringSG, the event saw 128 participants who attended to learn about the pre-enlistment processes tailored for individuals with special needs.

Five invited speakers shared their experience and invaluable information on support mechanisms available to facilitate a seamless transition into National Service:

• COL (NS) Darren Tan, Family Coach and National Service Commander
• BG (RET) Ishak Ismail, Ex-Commander BMTC, ACCORD Member
• Freya Lim and LCP (NSF) Joshua Yap, mother and son
• PTE (NSF) Gabriel Tan, Administrative Support Assistant (ASA)

Caregivers who wish to learn more about the process can visit these links below:
CMPB – Pre-Enlistment Process
Enabling Guide

This is our second joint collaboration in our ongoing efforts to support caregivers with sons with special needs as they enlist in National Service. The first collaboration, a webinar in June 2023, can be accessed by logging into our member portal.

In addition to the seminar, CaringSG organised a CAREcottage Bazaar, showcasing artworks, creations of love, and dignity crafted by youths from our CAREcottage families from 10:30am to 5:30pm at SAFRA Punggol. Keep a lookout for upcoming CAREcottage features on our blog!

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CaringSG’s First Ever Purple Parade!

CaringSG’s First Ever Purple Parade!

This year’s Purple Parade was held on 29 October 2022 at Suntec City to support inclusion and celebrate the abilities of persons with disabilities. 2022 marks the 10th anniversary for the Purple Parade, and the first time that CaringSG has participated in this event!

In the lead up to the Purple Parade, CaringSG held an online slogan quest for our members with two categories:

  • Category 1: non-caregiver members can create their own short slogans to encourage caregivers
  • Category 2: caregiver members can share their self-declared phrase that has always inspired them to remain motivated despite their challenges.

The contest ran until 30 November 2022. Scroll to the bottom of this article to see the winning slogans!

On the actual day of the Purple Parade, CaringSG members who dropped by the CaringSG booth and flashed their eCard were able to redeem limited edition free gifts (tote bag for caregiver members and a CaringSG badge for non-caregiver members). 

Members as well as the public could also purchase specially made handicrafts to support the caregivers and youths of CAREcottage families (see their beautiful handicrafts here).

The highlight of the Purple Parade was the marching of contingents where participants marched together to show solidarity for persons with disabilities. CaringSG, together with Centre for Fathering, formed a strong marching contingent of 88 participants. Everyone was really happy and proud to be part of this meaningful event.

The Purple Parade was supported by five CAREkakis, nine CaringSG staff and twenty-two volunteers. A loud shoutout and thank you to our partners (Enabling Lives Initiative Grant by SG Enable and Tote Board, and Temasek Foundation) who made this meaningful event possible. 

Congratulations to the following winners of our slogan quest!

We are greatly inspired by each and every one of your slogans and would like to announce the winners below:

  • CaringSG Online Slogan Quest Winner (Category 1): “All trials have an expiry date!” by Ms Tay 
  • CaringSG Online Slogan Quest Winner (Category 2): You make a world of difference!” by Low Li Ting

We also hope these notable slogan submissions will bring warmth to your day:

  • “Together, We Can!” by Amir Yunus
  • “Laugh more, open your heart, and take each day as it comes” by Ernest
  • “Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.” by Lim Sook Wei
  • “There is always light at every tunnel ahead.” by Ng Tiong Hui
  • “Appreciate progress, no matter how small!!” by Poornima Rajaram
  • “Care and Compassion in Community makes us stronger” by Timothy Wong
  • “Mom is the best teacher for your own son! Love yourself, family first before you can love others” by Vivien Tanaka
  • “Open our heart to listen, to act.” by Wong KK
  • “Be brave, be persistent, be fun. Never give up! Yes, you can!” by Yuria Tantono

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