Making the sky experience possible for special needs children and the Orang Asli youths
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)’s Aeronautics department held a community engagement programme recently called the ‘Fly For Heart’ at Senai International Airport and Le Grandeur Palm Resort. Senai collaborated the event together with Iskandar Malaysia Youth Committee, Terbang dan Teroka, Elite Flying Club, Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA), Johor Education Department, Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA), Hospital Permai, Persatuan Rakan Celik P.I.P.I and Persatuan Sindrom Down Negeri Johor (Hati).
The programme was supported by Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) through Iskandar Malaysia Youth Empowerment Fund (IMPower) as its aim is in line with the government’s call for making education and technology to be available for all. 20 volunteers, including 20 Seletar youths and 20 children of special needs were involved in this project.
Fly for Heart is an effort to bring special needs children and the Orang Asli youths to experience flying, something that is considered a luxury and for some, just outright impossible. According to Persatuan Celik P.I.P.I’s (Pn) Perema who is an occupational therapist, the NGO joined hands with HSA specialists’ to design a training programme for the special needs children which took 3 months to complete.
“Children with special needs are highly sensitive to altitude, noise and imbalance which would make them anxious”, said Dr. Phua from HSA. The training came in the form of games that helped them understand flying environment such as Aviation Joy Series Jigsaw Puzzle, Save our Pilot, Pick & Paste and Plane Hurdles contest.
As for the Seletar youths, they were given lessons on interactive flight education, drone exhibition, remote control plane simulation and paper plane’s contest. Exposing them to this various aero-education and experience would encourage them to see the world is a lot further than their usual surroundings.
PIPER PA-28, an aircraft from Elite Flying Club was flown in for an hour for each session as the programme’s main activity.
Dzulkarnain, Chairman of Persatuan Celik P.I.P.I said the children had fun and were hoping for it to become a fixed programme so more youths could get the same chance.
Fly for Heart concluded after Senator Dato’ Isa Ab. Hamid officiated the closing ceremony at Le Grandeur Palm Resort by submitting a cash replica that was passed to him by using a remote control drone, into a Fly for Heart “mock-up bank” with JAKOA, IRDA, HSA’s representatives and the Dean of Faculty of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.