Lana Abon is a special education teacher in the rural area of Sabah, a Malaysian island state. She teaches students with hearing impairments and students with learning disorders. She has successfully trained three special needs students to qualify for Asian English Olympics, the most prestigious English language competition in Asia, in the storytelling category. The three students became the first special needs learners to ever compete in the event in 2021. This unprecedented achievement has broken another barrier for special needs learners in the region which proved that such learners can compete in events that are often reserved for non-disabled learners. The news on these students’ participation in that renowned competition became viral on the local social media pages which inspired many educators. She regularly organizes field trips for her students to travel around Sabah which she managed to finance via fundraising activities that she initiated for this specific purpose.

Congratulations to Lana Abon as the SENIA World Change Award winner for October!

Her students’ storytelling videos: https://youtu.be/9QqLsH2Hfks

Alexius Ignatius was the first Malaysian to win a gold medal at an international art festival with his animated tale. The monthly art festivals hosted by Festival Bridges headquartered in Europe was the one of the most competitive art contests in the world and Malaysia only managed to clinch bronze or silver medals in the past. Hence, his gold medal was considered a breakthrough feat and what made it more astounding was that it was achieved by a special needs learner. Alexius was a regular volunteer that took an active role in assisting his school teams in many competitions and activities. He offered to be on the prop crew for the school theater which eventually won the district contest and managed the softball team that placed second in the district tournament. He led the special needs learners’ fundraising food kiosk to finance their field trips.  

Congratulations to Alexius Ignatius as September’s SENIA World Changer Award Winner!

Listen to Alexius’ animated tale here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O66kqOfKlpA

Avyasvina Istiniza Anak Unong is a special educational needs educator who has played a major role in training the special needs learners at her school to partake in various art competitions through alternative means.  This has resulted in unprecedented achievements from the student body and  drew national interest. She trained the students with hearing loss to perform monologue and poetry in sign language and helped students with specific learning disorders to be voice actors for animated storytelling. These students earned various medals and prizes in online and remote art and literary festivals. They have been invited to perform at several events including a national convention focusing on inclusion of the special needs community. The impact of her work went beyond her school as the students’ performance videos were shared widely and one performance video was shared by one of the country’s education leaders as well as the ministry of education on social media.

Congratulations to Avyasvina Istiniza Anak Unong as August’s SENIA World Changer Award recipient.

Here is one of her student’s performances: https://youtu.be/wCpXe-Mx-Q4

Hajime is a voice of self-awareness, acceptance and inclusion. He is a 9 year old boy, who currently attends Concordia International School, in Hanoi, Vietnam.  He was diagnosed with ADHD in grade 2 and strategies were put in place to support him at home and at school. Hajime raises awareness and inclusion around ADHD in his community through education.  He does this by delivering video presentations educating the students and teachers at Concordia International School about ADHD and the needs, challenges and successes that goes along with it. He sees his difference as a superpower and inspires others to do the same. He allows an accepting space for others to relate and identify with their own learning needs. He aims to be an influence of acceptance to a wider community in the future. Congratulations Hajime on sharing your superpowers with others!

See Hajime’s presentation on his ADHD brain.

Congratulations to Hajime Chiba as June’s SENIA World Changer Award recipient!

Lele is a grade 2 student from Keystone Academy in Beijing, China who is building a better, more inclusive school community, one classmate at a time.  He is a curious and intuitive boy who is always striving to become a better learner.  While his classmates may have reacted initially with surprise to his disability, Lele continues to educate and be himself.  He has won the respect of his classmates through his positive interactions with others and in the process has driven his entire community to become more inclusive and positive. Way to go, Lele!

Congratulations to Xueyue (Lele) Shen as this month’s recipient of the SENIA World Changer Award.

Aaron Yong Tzy Seng is from Sabah, Malaysia and has many skills like making beautiful furniture or telling an animated tale. The teachers at his school discovered Aaron’s talent for the English language and his ability to proficiently narrate stories. As a gifted voice actor, he won first prize at online international competition “Under the Skies of Australia” on February 20th, 2022 in the animated storytelling category. He received national notoriety and was featured on Malaysian TV and appeared in the weekly educational column of a prominent English newspaper, The Star.  His achievements have paved the way for more individuals with disabilities to venture into animated storytelling and showcase their talents.  Thank you for leading the way, Aaron! 

Congratulations to Aaron Yong Tzy Seng as this month’s recipient of the SENIA World Changer Award!

See Aaron’s storytelling here: https://youtu.be/DgSIeM90szE

Jackob Yoshua Jeffry, along with his partner, has paved the way for animated storytelling to be regarded as a practical and effective means for learners to communicate their ideas and express their artistry. In 2020, the pair produced a series of animated tales that made their debut in Brunei literary festival which received positive responses from the audience. In early 2021, he took part in the storytelling category of Asian English Olympics organized by BINUS university in Indonesia. He became the first special needs learner to take part in the regional competition which, just like other activities, usually involves individuals with no special educational needs. In 2022, he received a special recognition from the Ministry of Education for his contribution in the national education system. Since his involvement in several international activities, there have been several special needs learners at his school that have successfully followed in his footsteps.

To see some of Jackob’s storytelling, go to: https://youtu.be/t7qmeA4C-Ic

Congratulations to Jakob Yoshua Jeffry as February’s SENIA World Changer Award Recipient.

 

Courtney is a student at Torrey Pines High School in California. She was inspired to promote inclusion in her community by her younger siblings who both are diagnosed with special needs. Courtney wanted to help young individuals in the special needs community like her siblings thrive during the pandemic by founding a youth organization called Tutors4Stars which promotes the inclusion of students of special needs in the education system through free online tutoring lessons. One of her achievements in the organization includes hosting a summer camp in 2021 which connected students during the pandemic in a group setting through online meetings. She also is one of the chapter leads from SN Inclusion, a non-profit organization that prepares neurodivergent individuals for successful careers through free and specialized career-technical education courses. She contributed to the organization by creating some of the course content and advocated for the inclusion of the special needs community in the workforce.

Congratulations to Courtney Wong as January ‘s recipient of the SENIA World Changer Award.

Nurazwin Liyana Binti Abdullah has proven that individuals with a hearing impairment can always find different ways to showcase their talents through her monologue and poetry performances in sign language. Nurazwin Liyana ‘s monologue performance titled “Mother” received recognition at “Les Etoiles De Paris 2021″ Art Festival (Nov 2021). She also performed sign language poetry at George Town Literary Festival, the biggest literary event in Malaysia, and at a national OKU (individuals with disabilities) convention organized by Malaya University, a renowned national university. She leads her school team in sign language performing arts and trains for performances and competitions. Her monologue performance can be viewed here: https://youtube.com/watch?v=W-QyhWTI2GA&feature=share

Congratulations to Nurazwin Liyana Binti Abdullah as December ‘s 2021 SENIA World Changer Award winner!

At just 4 years of age, Rashwin has made it into the Malaysia Book of Records for being able to identify the most number of international flags.  As a child with autism,  the impact of this award has helped raise awareness of the strengths and mental capabilities of people with autism in the local and national community. Too often there is the focus on what a child cannot do, instead Rashwin is focusing on what he can do and creating awareness about autism along the way.  His mom has been instrumental in advocating for the inclusion of children with autism in our everyday society through her blog, My AutismAmazing SONshine. This blog features her son ‘s journey as well as sharing resources and providing support for parents.  Her aim is to create an inclusive society, where all children are seen for their abilities. She is slowly seeing a positive change in perspective and hopes that this will grow!

Congratulations to Rashwin Kalithas as our November World Changer Award winner!