CLASS IN SESSION: 1, 2, 3, RUN!
With whistle codes as their morning routine, and twisted roots as their chairs, the wide-eyed children found their new storybook space in the beach trail of Cape Rachado.
It was a lesson taught beyond the four walls of the classroom. There were no corners, no chalkboard, no quizzes, but turning points, dense patches of mangrove swamps and a historical lighthouse waiting at the peak.
It was a Saturday like no other for the 32 children, alongside a few women, from the Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) Refuge, WAO Child Care Center (CCC) and Prudential Welfare Home. A day of outdoor learning led the adult-child pairs back to nature. Hiking up the trails, hand in hand, lit up the wick of every child’s wonder and every adult’s childlike curiosity.
Running Malaysia left no stone unturned and explored the great outdoors through the curious eyes of the children and the just as curious, ever awe-struck, parent participants and volunteers.
ADVENTURE AT THE CORE
The backdrop was the still waters of Blue Lagoon. When the first lesson began, kids came to full attention. The community lead didn’t keep the ramble any longer for the pre-hike safety briefing and gave the directives away in short, clear sentences. After a few repetitions here and there, the group was divided into three teams according to their speed and fitness level, and—voilà! Into the world at large!
Coastal Obstacle Reconnaissance Experience (CORE) 2015 kicked off with the trekking/trail running segment.
How wild the kids must have felt to be let free in the wilderness. The mangrove stilt roots welcomed the weekend warriors into a route of greenery and sneak peeks of the beach.
CORE 2015 is an outdoor activity under Project HOPE’s Care2Mentor Program. Prem Kumar Ramadas, the Project HOPE Advisor and Founder, explained, “This happens to be a pilot activity for the program. We wanted the volunteers to get a feel of how it’s like to deal with children. By the same token, we hope that the single moms from the shelter would find this program empowering.”
Chia Mee Leng, the Team Leader for Care2Mentor Project and Project HOPE Co-Founder, added, “Care2Mentor is our community sports project. Through sports, we aim to help kids excel in other areas as well. We see the potential of the project to address an area that has been neglected by other organizations. Focusing on children from disadvantaged families—those who don’t have access to welfare assistance, we aim to channel our resources effectively.”
For the Project HOPE team, experiential education takes fun and learning further. All driven by the same love for sports, the team members and the volunteers gathered together and shared their firsthand knowledge and experiences with the children and the single mothers in and out of the trails.
The kind of adventure found in the trail was not only of dirt and sweat, but packed with the challenge of freeing the unpaved path from rubbish. Bringing trash bags with them, participants got their hands dirty and collected trash as they trekked along, all for keeping the forest healthy.
These days, children are often blinded to their surroundings, with their eyes glued to the screen, sacrificing relevant and practical know-hows being in the great outdoors can equip them with.
“The ultimate goal is to develop the kids’ physical fitness and character development.” Prem added, “In the team, we’ve all got the same aspirations. We all love sports, and we believe that these aspirations can be shared.
In this activity, they were paired up. It’s one to one, but still in a team. There’s a degree of competitiveness, and we hope that things like this would accelerate their development.”