Speaker of Parliament, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin joined 12 pairs of fathers and their special needs children on May 26, 2019 to make cookies using a less-sugar recipe at a hands-on workshop hosted by chefs at My NoNNa’s. My NoNNa’s is a social enterprise who hires persons with handicap and special needs.

The cookie making workshop was one of 90 father-child bonding programmes that ran from 16 May to 16 June as part of the Celebrating Fathers initiative and the first Celebrating Fathers programme specially catered to fathers and their special needs children.

Initiated in 2016, the Celebrating Fathers movement seeks to raise awareness of the importance of active fatherhood with a month-long line-up of exciting activities in the run-up to Father’s Day each year. The activities are organised by DADs for Life in partnership with Mediacorp, and supported by the National Population and Talent Division under Strategy Group, Prime Minister’s Office; and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Said Mr Tan, who is also the Patron for Centre for Fathering, “Celebrating Fathers is important because we all have a role to play alongside mothers. The key thing is to be
present in the lives of our children at every stage as far as we can.”

He added, “The role of fathers is important in every context but for those with special needs, it’s more challenging and it’s good to get the community together for families to share their experiences and be a support group as well.”

Sixty-three-year-old Mr Low Thiong Keng, who attended the workshop with his 26-year-old son, Benny, said, “We can learn with each other. I was so worried that Benny cannot manage and I was so surprised that he can follow and learn everything by himself. I learnt a lot from Benny as I have never done any cooking before.”

Mr Say Hong, a 37-year-old army officer, attended the baking workshop with daughter Heidi, who is 7-year-old. Heidi has a genetic disorder which brings about difficulty in her movement and speech.

Mr Say shared, “This workshop allows us to spend quality time together without Mum and helper. As this workshop caters to special needs children, she feels more at home and at ease than other workshops which isn’t as inclusive and she may feel left out.”

Besides this workshop, more than 20 other community and private sector partners were also recognising fathers through 90 programmes to promote father and child bonding. This included workshops for photography, DJ sound mixing, race car engineering, building a medieval catapult and constructing a fun resin table as well as adventure trail in the jungles with the whole family, as part of this year’s Celebrating Fathers 2019!