Now... how shall I start this blog entry... how about a very cliché "What an exceptional year this has been."?

Indeed indeed... indeed an 'exceptional' year, however, it is not because of the COVID pandemic and how it has impacted (negatively) on Summer's and my personal life, but it is because of the silver linings. I have even more things to be thankful about this year!

My Team

First and foremost, I want to give full credit to my team! I love each and everyone of them so much - Mag, Melissa, Hon Tjuin, Jayne and our newbie Yvonne. All of them remained calm during the uncertain times, doing their best, playing their parts and supporting one another as we braved the storm together. 

5th Anniversary Celebrations

Yes! We celebrated our 5th anniversary this 6th of July. While the team cannot gather physically like previous years to celebrate, our COVID-style celebration was even more meaningful. We hosted a free webinar series of four webinars ("Talk with Me" Part 1). We also gave unlimited free access to our app, Summer-ies in the month of July! 

Opening of our Physical Center

I supposed the most amazing event of 2020 is the opening of Summer's first physical center! While many companies are moving out of brick and mortar during this time, we dived right into it. I was amazed how I had signed the Tenancy Agreement just a few days before the Circuit Breaker which started on 7 April. The Tenancy Agreement was signed on 1 April; what an April Fools' Day decision. Looking back, I admire my own foolish courage - 1 April not only days before the Circuit Breaker, it was after WHO's announcement of COVID-19 being a PANDEMIC! *facepalm* But looking back, there is no better time for me to open our first physical center than 2020 - mainly because I was in grounded in Singapore. I had plenty of time to work on this project. If it was not for COVID, I would have been travelling to Jakarta, Bangladesh, and Myanmar every few weeks. So thanks to COVID, I have an extended block of time in Singapore, to set up the physical center. 

The setting up of this physical center also gave me (and everyone at Summer's) an opportunity to be reminded of the love and support from the children and their families, from my own family and friends, and the family and friends of other staff members of Summer's. 

Starting from scratch. This was on 6 April, the Sunday before the Circuit Breaker. 

The floor plan and colours for the walls! Thankful for Melissa who has an artistic streak and decided on the colours promptly!

Wall bricks - a lovely gift from a group of my close friends!

Orchid from Bernard, Melissa's husband.

Cakes from our lovely neighbour, Niche Cafe!

Flowers from my best friend's sister, who is based in US now.

New Speech Therapist 

Summer's welcomed its fifth Speech Therapist, Yvonne, in June! While Summer's did have a vacancy at the beginning of the year, it did not quite occur to me that due to the COVID situation, there was a possibility that Summer's business might be impacted and that the vacancy might no longer be available. This ignorance led me to sign the contract with Yvonne... yup, after WHO announced COVID as a global pandemic. But this ignorance brought Summer's a great asset! A steady, mature therapist who loves the children and families! 

Other New Endeavours

All thanks to the COVID situation, Summer's undertook a few endeavours which would have never happen if it was not for this pandemic:

(1) Webinar Series: Yes! This year we hosted two webinar series, a total of eight one-hour webinars. The two series are Part 1 and Part 2 of 'Talk with Me', in which we shared parents and professionals how to 'talk' to their children, by sharing the normal development in the areas of Speech Therapy, the probable difficulties in these areas and some supporting strategies. These webinars are now on our Youtube Channel.

One of the Webinars in July 2020, on Language Development

(2) Teletherapy: While I have never been a fan of teletherapy due to the lack of supportive research, COVID forced me to realise that teletherapy does work. From my experience, the most effective type of teletherapy is the coaching of parents to be the child's therapist. Not only do the child benefit from the hour session, the parents benefitted even more. They learn strategies on how to work with their child, including behaviour management strategies which we therapists have been using in our sessions. Now the parents know the reasons 'why does my child only do this and this with you, and not with me?'

(3) Social Groups: We also started our first social group, for a group of four children (with two therapists). We had so much fun doing treasure hunts, playing 'The Floor is Lava', baking 'Cake in a Cup' and decorating Gingerbread Man. Social Groups have always been on my to-do list, knowing how many of our kids will benefit from it. So when our center opened, it was a 'woo-hoo' moment for myself and all of us at Summer's! 

Following and giving instructions to peers during our treasure hunt game! No peeping!

Storybook time before decorating our GingerBread Man!

(4) App Updates: We have been working hard at updating our Sing-To-Talk and Summer-ies App. Being grounded in Singapore and at home (especially during the Circuit Breaker) gave me more time to work on these two apps with my staff who will draw and create the content. It also gave Jenny, the Music Therapist partner in New Zealand time to record the songs. I am pretty proud of the progress (and of course, the apps are still very much a work in progress). Do check them out on the AppStore! 

One of the pages in our Social Skills series in Sing-To-Talk

To summarise, 2020 has indeed been an eventful year, i.e. a year of many (positive) events! There are so many things that I am thankful for in this Summer's journey. Blessed 2021 to each and everyone of you! May the new year brings you new hope!


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