While restaurants and cafés are the centre of attention in the heart of Petaling Jaya, something wonderful is brewing quietly in the suburbs. In a large house situated not far from the busy roundabout near Masjid Al-Mujahideen, there’s a group of passionate local heroes who are transforming lives through Gem & Bread Special Needs Support Group.
Gem & Bread or G&B for short isn’t just your ordinary by-the-book facility for persons with special needs. Co-founders Sharanya Radhakrishnan and Teresa Tan choose to depart from the traditional route in providing support by exploring fun and unique approaches that can be deemed as unconventional and more challenging for some. The founders both believe that these individuals need support and the necessary skills training that will assist them with their lives once they reach the legal age of 18.
“The reason we opened Gem & Bread and what Gem & Bread is all about is a 50/50 approach to education and on-the job training. We are enforcing a creative arts education. Which means we teach drama, dance, music and art therapy,” said Sharanya, who studied arts in the United Kingdom before opening Gem & Bread in 2014.
Despite the common misconception among Malaysians that creative arts may not have such an important role in making an impact in our daily lives, at Gem & Bread the management went against the norm and focuses on primarily utilising performing arts to help children with special needs express themselves.
With their deep understanding that the creative arts serve an important function and help to expand individual horizons with different perspectives to learn from, the founders were able to slowly introduce this method to the parents and children alike.
According to Sharanya, she initially had trouble incorporating the performing arts syllabus to assist her students. “When we wanted to introduce the arts as an education, it was a little bit difficult to explain to parents at first but now that they start seeing the benefits themselves, we’ve stopped receiving complaints,’ she said.
Beyond their involvement with performing arts, Teresa Tan also helps the students to enhance their skills and capabilities through baking activities. With baking, the children are able to improve their motor skills, confidence level and communication, as well as social skills.
Made together through the collaborative efforts of the teacher and students and a whole lot of passion and love, Gem & Bread produces exceptional jars of cookies and bread that also help to sustain the centre, especially during these trying times.
Curious to know more about these neighbourhood heroes? Watch this video:
If you would like to munch on some yummy cookies this holiday season, head on over to https://www.facebook.com/GemandBread to show your support! And if you are looking for access to other thriving local businesses, visit the all-new https://yellowpages.my to discover more!