Dr. Shamini Logannathan
My passion for inclusive education started from the values my parents have instilled in me since young. Both my parents (my late mother, Saraswathy and father, Logannathan) lived in poverty and came up very hard in life. They had to stop their education in order to work and feed their family and provide education for their younger siblings. They were not able to fulfil their wish to study and hold a job that they desired. As such, they put their heart and soul to provide me, their daughter with the right education pathway and ensured that I reach my fullest potential. They have inculcated strong values on the importance of education; the only tool to change the world. Thus, I value and emphasize on the importance of education as well as the need for a more inclusive practice such that each child is given equal opportunity to reach their fullest potential; giving rise to the development of Tele-Empowered.
Tele-Empowered is indeed a two-year-long project with lots of investment and effort to cater to the needs of our Singapore population. During my practice, I was faced with lots of difficulties in liaising with teachers or getting onboard with parents to generalize strategies taught in the clinic setting. It was evident that the student’s/children’s needs were getting wider but there was a lot of limitation on how much I could reach out and contribute towards an inclusive society or classroom. With extensive literature review on varied inclusive practice and service delivery models during my doctorate program, I was able to justify and defend that a TeleHealth service delivery model would be ideal in bridging the knowledge gaps of special needs and the accessibility to reach out to educators. Thus, the first proposed model was to develop a TeleHealth service to empower educators and act as a consulting platform that facilitates in providing recommendations, strategies and case management for students with special needs. Subsequently, I reflected that parents or caregivers are equally important in nurturing a better inclusive society. Understanding and acceptance of special needs children should start from their immediate social environment. At times, there is more than can be done at home than at school or clinics.
Thus, Tele-Empowered was developed with the aim of empowering educators, parents and caregivers to understand the varied dimensions of special needs and provide the best care and facilitation possible. Tele-Empowered also aims to act as a primary healthcare model to educate on red flags, pick up early signs of delays or needs and carry out strategies to bridge the gaps as early as possible. Tele-Empowered also strives to be a portal which educates on pertinent child and adolescent issues including but not limited to, screen time addiction, gaming, anxiety, academic stress, etc.
Tele-Empowered became a collaborative effort when like-minded individuals I have known for years or worked with for multiple projects came forth to believe in the vision behind Tele-Empowered. The start of this platform would not have been possible without the continued support from the team of therapists in Tele-Empowered! Each therapist in this team is qualified and highly passionate individuals who are willing to make a difference in the inclusive paradigm in Singapore. And, I believe Tele-Empowered would continue to evolve and cater to a wider range of special needs populations in Singapore!