Spectra Secondary School is like a “kampung”. Students and teachers hi-five or fist-bump each other as they pass the corridors, and the teachers seem to know every student’s name. In this “kampung” spirit of togetherness, Raihanah Maisarah is one of its ‘villagers’. The former hospitality services student at Spectra Secondary School, is an outgoing and active sportsperson whom teachers described as ‘confident’, ‘responsible’ and ‘resilient’.
And part of this strength came with a little help from… horses.
Under EQUAL (EQUine-Assisted Learning), an equine therapy programme run by Equal Ark Singapore and pilot-funded by Temasek Foundation Cares at Spectra, Raihanah and her classmates learnt social, communication and life skills through horsemanship, horse play and other activities with horses. The programme, which is still being run at the school after the pilot phase, aims at helping youths build self-esteem, confidence and emotional maturity.
At first, Raihanah was afraid of the horses. Slowly, she started to touch and handle the horses, and learned to care and empathise with the animals. “I feel proud of myself,” Raihanah said of the time she overcame her fear.
Handling a horse comes with some difficulty. Through grappling with the animals’ temperaments and personalities, the students gained empathy. "There was a boy who, after riding a temperamental horse, commented that he now understands how his teachers feel when he does not obey their instructions," said Spectra’s Principal.
For Raihanah, her experience with the horses also helped her to acquire valuable life lessons. “I learnt to put my fears aside and just step up because that is life: you will be afraid, but you have to do. When you do nothing, you won’t know what your future will be like.”
The future in Raihanah’s dream includes owning her own bakery. The teenager has dreamt of this since she was 11, when she first saw her mother bake.
During her time at Spectra, she took some baby steps towards her dream. She has done well in school to receive the Temasek Foundation Cares Education Bursary, which helped to defray the costs of her school fees, textbooks and other education-related expenses. Her training in school has also equipped her with the necessary culinary and customer service skills. “We learnt how to serve customers, and what we can do when the customers are not satisfied with our work. So, I can use what I learnt here in the future when I open my own bakery.”
And even when she fears facing a nasty customer, “I could put that fear aside, go up there and stand up for what’s right,” because that was working with the horses taught her. Horse-power indeed!
Hear Raihanah talk about her dream:
Since 2009, Temasek Foundation Cares has been supporting programmes that provide opportunities for youths to grow, to dream, to succeed. In particular, we have been partnering Spectra Secondary School and Crest Secondary School to help their students gain confidence and life skills, provide academic support and financial assistance for those in need.
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