Integrating her passion to work with children with disabilities and her passion for sailing, Athena has volunteered herself as an instructor for HANSA sailing. The HANSA sailing program was piloted by the People’s Association to allow people of varied abilities from Grace Orchard School, SPD and Children’s Cancer Foundation to try out sailing at no cost. Athena in a span of one month had worked with three different children, one with mild autism, another with speech and physical impairments and lastly a brain tumor survivor. Despite the vast difference in their abilities, Athena was able to engage them, boost their morale and eventually provide them with enough courage and confidence to be able to sail on their own.
A specific case that she worked on was with a teenager with speech and physical impairments to provide educational and physical support through sailing. At the beginning, Athena noticed the student had a psychological trauma of falling down and was afraid to walk down slopes and often asked to be carried. She too, was afraid of getting wet and constantly complained for the lack of strength, hence reluctant to try. Her strong fear for capsizing has also caused her to rely heavily on the presence and help of Athena during the time out at sea. As Athena got to know the student better through observations and interactions, she executed positive reinforcements and altered her communication style to fit the student’s. Through patience, Athena repetitively explained the concepts of the sailing in a simplified manner for easy understanding and tested the student over and over again. Eventually, the student gained more courage in her own abilities, and exercised the physical strength that she once limited herself to. From not being able to let go of the joystick that controls the rudder (the board controlling the direction of the boat) to being able to multitask by controlling the entire boat herself without Athena in the boat was a remarkable achievement. She was also able to excel in her sail trimming and boat angle, enabling her to soar fast and start enjoying the water more than before.
Athena possesses experiences in working with children. She has been teaching piano in different piano schools. One of which was in KWJ Piano School which provides specialized piano curricula for young students, developed to fast track their progress whilst focusing on all-rounded learning. Working in such an environment requires her to possess strong problem-solving skills, with the ability to change or tweak the curriculum at a moment’s notice depending on how a particular student responds to the teaching method being used. Through teaching these young aspiring pianists (3 – 10 years old), she has found great joy in working with children, and believes strongly that only when these children are intrinsically motivated, will they then be able to perform extrinsically. Athena also acquired the ability to see the world through the lenses of these children. She has also gained an exceptional referral recommendation letter from the director of the piano school.
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