Born with a urinary tract blockage that required him to go for two operations before the age of three, Chia Kun Liang was discouraged from participating in sports-related activities as a young child. That changed when he was in Primary Two.
“I wanted to do as much as my friends during PE lessons. I remember my teacher encouraging me by giving me a head start in a race. It was embarrassing to come in last but I finished the race,” recalled Kun Liang, who has since drawn on his experience to encourage parents of atypical children not to be fearful about letting their kids participate in various activities.
Clear about the path he wanted to take, Kun Liang sought out Ngee Ann Polytechnic's (NP) Child Psychology and Early Education course as his first choice. In his final year, he opted for the Early Literacy track, which led to him developing Project Five Fingers. The project, involving puppets to teach socio-emotional skills to children, was a valuable learning experience.
“I love puppetry and had used it in NP’s YAY (Young Advocating for the Younger) Club to perform for cancer-stricken children. Project Five Fingers showed me that I could make a bigger impact. I now aspire to design creative teaching and learning resources for broadcast media so that I can reach out to more children, parents and teachers,” said Kun Liang, whose source of inspiration is Sesame Street.
To this end, he will be taking up a Nanyang Technological University scholarship to read Communication Studies and believes that having been a student journalist with Lianhe Zaobao since Secondary Two will give him a head start.
A Youth Expedition Project in Philippines that saw him teaching personal hygiene to children below eight years of age, gave him a different exposure. “As we were dealing with children who could not speak English, we had to do step-by-step demonstrations using exaggerated movements and constantly check that we were being understood. The experience further affirmed my interest in early childhood education,” he said.
Besides serving as President in YAY Club, Kun Liang has also been active in his constituency. He helps out in the Unique Children’s Recreation Club, started by a group of parents in Bukit Panjang to provide an inclusive environment via social and emotional learning programmes for both typical and atypical children.
The Ngee Ann Polytechnic Outstanding Achievement Award is a premier award for all-round excellence. It is presented to a select group of five to 10 top graduates from each graduating batch of more than 5,000 students. The award was presented for the first time in 2010. This year, five Ngee Ann Polytechnic Outstanding Achievement Awards will be given.