Overcoming the Odds

Looking at Harish today, one would never have imagined that he used to be easily anxious and shy. Struggling to manage his emotions, he often resorted to sugary food for self-regulation. Beneath his anxiety, Harish had a deeply wanted to connect with those around him, and has the potential to do so, even if he didn’t yet know how to.

Seeing his potential, Harish’s teachers began working on a plan to help him learn to manage his emotions in healthier ways. He learnt to journal and share his feelings and reflections with his teachers and peers. With structured teaching, experiential learning, constant exposure to community events and strong support from his family, Harish slowly learnt to overcome his anxiety and grew to be more comfortable in social situations.

In 2015, Harish was among the first batch of students selected to take part in Rainbow Centre’s (RC) work experience project. He was posted to ABLE Studio, a retail space for geriatric care in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), where he attended to product display, stock-taking, customer service, and cashiering duties.

Harish the confident barista during his internship at Seeds cafe

The following year, under the guidance of his job coach, Harish went on his second work attachment, this time at Giant Express supermarket. Interacting with the staff and serving customers at the supermarket did wonders in boosting his self-confidence. The affable and hardworking teenager impressed the Human Resource Manager so much so that the latter decided to bring RC on board their internship programme.

In 2017, Harish made history in Rainbow Centre by becoming one of the first few students to attain the WSQ Statement of Attainment for a course in food and beverage safety and hygiene. He was also awarded the Lee Kuan Yew-Exemplary Student Award for his laudable qualities in showing the growth that a student with special needs can achieve.

The following year, Harish went on to intern at Rainbow Centre’s Seeds cafe. He made great coffee and introduced items on the menu with ease to customers. He enjoyed his work very much and found his passion to work in the food and beverage industry. After his internship, he continued to work part-time at Seeds cafe on weekends.