His Majesty's granddaughter visits SMARTER and BACA
By P. Marilyn

Thirty-eight students from Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah School yesterday made an educational visit to SMARTER Brunei ASD centre in Sengkurong, as well as BACA (Brunei's Autism Centre for Adults) in Jerudong, as part of the school's yearly activity after the students complete their PSR exams.

Present amongst the students during the visit was YAM Pengiran Anak Raheemah Sanaul Bolkiah, the granddaughter of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Special Education Teacher, Hjh Norsa'idah bte Hj Hassan, along with four other Primary Six teachers from Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah School, led the group of students on the visit.

According to Cikgu Hjh Norsa'idah, the visit aimed to familiarise the students with the special needs children and individuals and to shape them from a young age so that they will be confident when encountering special needs individuals in the future.

"We want to expose the children to the reality of society that there are people out there who need help, so that in the future they can contribute socially and offer help in any way they can to the less fortunate.

"At the same time, we also want to create awareness on autism amongst the students so that they understand what it's all about and that there is nothing to fear of the special needs," she told the Bulletin.

The visiting students made their first stop at SMARTER ASD Centre where they were welcomed by the Vice-President of SMARTER, Pg Haji Kamal Pg Hj Ahmad.

They were then brought on a guided tour around the centre to look at the facilities and the programmes available.

They also had the opportunity to meet the special needs students at the centre.

The group then proceeded to BACA in Jerudong where the students met with older children with autism.

Speaking to the Bulletin, Pg Haji Kamal said BACA was opened in June this year for individuals with autism aged 12 and above, to train and prepare them to live independently in the future.

"Here at BACA, we try to develop their skills for future employment so that they can carry on living as a contributing member of the society," said Pg Hj Kamal.

Aside from the visit, Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah School also took an extra step to help raise funds by collecting items such as clothes, shoes, bags, books, CDs and such to be donated to SMARTER's shop in the capital.

The visit ended with a breakfast treat for the students at BACA. - Borneo Bulletin (12th Nov 2008)