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MALAYSIA'S largest transdisciplinary intervention centre, Oasis Place has successfully hosted EmpowerFest 2024 for three consecutive days held at Avenue K Shopping Mall recently.

The  groundbreaking festival celebrating inclusion and neurodiversity empowerment, acceptance, and community engagement themed "Through Our Heart -EMPOWERFEST- Carnival of Inclusion & Neurodiversity” was graced by the presence of Executive Director of Valiram Group Dato Sharan Valiram (pix above left); Founder of Oasis Place Malaysia, Dr. Choy Sook Kuen (middle) and her son, an autistic adult, Joshua Teo.

The event also witness amazing performances by the Fashion Fusion Models & Lim Kok Wings Dance Club which received applause from the public and invited guests.

EmpowerFest 2024 provided a unique platform to showcase inspiring stories, achievements and challenges from neurodivergent individuals to all the carepartners consisting of family members, educators, health professionals and employers navigating the world of neurodiversity.

In short, the festival's theme, "Through Our Heart," emphasized that every unique individual and community stakeholders has the potential to succeed and make meaningful social impact contributions.

EmpowerFest 2024 is not just about providing a platform to learn and connect but also about changing societal perceptions of neurodiversity. 

The three-day highly interactive activities and engagement vide forums, presentations and panellist offers the public oppurtunities to immerse themselves experientiality with experts and lived-experiences story sharing of the community of different neurotypes.

There were 8 different topics discussed at the sharing forum session during the three days event beginning with talks from Associate Profesor, Dr. Norazlin Kamal Nor (above, left) on the subject, 'Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children' followed by Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Hazli Zakaria (right) on the subject of Neuro Diversity plus more stage activities including talks by Allied Health & Special Education Experts and introduction of Autism Sports.

Below are brief information on some of the selected individuals and panelists involved:

1.  Joshua Teow (Neurodivergent autistic adult):

Joshua has worked at Uniqlo for almost 10 years, demonstrating his ability to thrive in a demanding work environment. His extensive work experience proves that autistic individuals can achieve meaningful professional success.  

"Hi, my name is Joshua. I currently work at Uniqlo Melawati Mall and look after the fitting rooms. I've been working there for almost 10 years."

Read more about Joshua's journey HERE. 

2.  June, Co-owner of Nozig (Parent of two autistic sons):  

June recounts her family's journey in recognizing and managing neurodiversity using sporting activities. Her children, initially struggling with social skills and coordination, now enjoy the benefits of engaging in sports, which helps them manage social emotional demands. 


"Cultivating a love for sports isn't easy, but we persisted. Now, they know that engaging in sports can help regulate themselves, and a well-rested mind makes them better equipped to tackle personal challenges."

3.  Joyce Teoh Lay Bee & Sabrina Teoh Weber (Mother and Down syndrome daughter):

Joyce shares her experience raising Sabrina, emphasizing that avoiding comparisons is key to reducing the stress of parenting. Joyce and Sabrina have explored the challenges and triumphs of their neurodiversity journey together.  

"I find that much of my stress of parenting an adolescent, especially one with special needs, can be reduced if I can refrain myself from comparing."

4.  Linda & Amir, Owners of Dyslexia Café (Mother and dyslexix son):

Amir, Linda's son who was diagnosed with dyslexia, is now a trained chef and runs Dyslexia Café. Amir's story illustrates how consistent parental support and recognition of individual strengths can pave the way for remarkable achievements.  

"When my son Amir was first diagnosed with dyslexia, I initially thought he might have lower intelligence, but that turned out to be untrue. After the diagnosis, I began learning about dyslexia and committed to teaching my son daily to improve his reading and learning skills."

5.  Grace Gan (Manager, Yayasan Gamuda Enabling Academy):

Grace Gan's role as job coach at Yayasan Gamuda’s Enabling Academy (EA) is to equip autistic individuals for sustainable employment. Her initiatives emphasize the importance of transition programs for neurodivergent job seekers.

"My role involves strategizing EA's employment transition program to better equip trainees with autism for sustainable employment and to promote neurodivergent hiring initiatives."

6.  Dr Cheah Boon Eu ( Autistic medical doctor): 

 A medical doctor diagnosed only when adult with Autism, ADHD, and Irlen Syndrome, Dr. Boon Eu has learned to manage her challenges and now uses her personal experience to guide and inspire others in the healthcare community.  

"I believe the only validation I need is from myself."

7.  Dr Hazli Zakaria (Consultant Psychiatrist):

Dr Hazli Zakaria, is former president of Malaysia Psychiatry Association and current international editorial member of World Social Psychiatry Journal and Chairman of Alaminda Healthcare Berhad. 

His main clinical interest is  adult psychiatry in mood disorder, adult ADJD, substance abuse and psychodynamic pscycho theray. Dr Hazli emphasized the importance of mental health support and the impact of social advocacy.  

 "My focus is on empowering mental illness patients and their families through advocacy and improved service quality.

For the record, Masteron Group, along with Nisai Group, played a crucial role in ensuring the success of EmpowerFest 2024. 

Both organizations are committed to creating opportunities and providing resources that empower individuals with special needs to succeed.

“Masteron is proud to be main sponsor of EmpowerFest 2024,” said Datuk Choy Wai Ceong, Managing Director of Masteron Group.

He believed that public education and advocacy projects like Oasis Placee’s EMPOWERFEST, promote hope in the increasingly challenging VUCA (volatile, uncertain, compleex and ambigous) world.

“Our regular sponsorship of Oasis Place reflects our commitment to promoting acceptance and social impact projects in the community. Events like this not only raise awareness but also empower individuals and families to be equipped with awareness , acceptance and appreciation of different life challendes,” added Wai Ceong.

Meanwhile, Mother (Founder) of Oasis Place, Dr. Choy Sook Kuen felt honoured to have Masteron’s financial sponsorship to facilitate  breaking of boundaries of both myths and truths  of neuroinclusion. 

“Through this resource-packed three-day event, we aimed to celebrate the strengths of neurodivergent individuals and their carepartners and provide valuable resources for all to educate, navigate and unleash hidden talents of individuals , families and community advocating for inclusion and neurodiversity,” she said.

According to her, the ethos of Oasis Place is inspired by Mother Teresa's quote, "I cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples," . 

Arm with the afore, Oasis Place’s develops colloborations with private and public organisations including colloborative efforts with online education group, Nisai Group, UK.  

Oasis Place’s colloborative approach reflect Dr. Choy's commitment to making a positive impact on the community of those Oasis Place serves. 

Read more by clicking this LINK.

#OasisPlace #Masteron #EmpowerFest2024 #ThroughOurHeart #Forum #AvenueK

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