A teacher from Klang has gone viral for a heartwarming video of his blind student happily running with his invention for the first time
Wan Muadzam Wan Abidin, known fondly as Cikgu Azam on TikTok, shared that he designed and built the running aid in the video from scratch.
"This was the earliest version; it looks exactly like a supermarket trolley. But Alisya (the student in the TikTok) was so happy anyway because this was the first time she ran without having to hold my shoulder or grab a rope," he posted.
In a previous TikTok, he said he was so proud of her because she was able to complete a 5km fun run with the assistive frame.
Cikgu Azam has been teaching special needs students, mostly visually impaired or blind, at Sekolah Kebangsaan Klang since 2009
The 40-year-old, who is also a Physical Education teacher, said he was inspired to build the Caballus RAFVI (Running Aid For the Visually Impaired) because Alisya wanted to join a fun run with her peers in February last year.
Cikgu Azam told Harian Metro that despite being almost fully blind, the Standard Six student is very talented and has won several awards in other sporting events, such as long jump and shot put.
Running, however, came with its difficulties.
"I'm one of the teachers who trains her, and every practice, Alisya will have to put her hand on my shoulder to navigate herself," he said.
Cikgu Azam said it was a cumbersome way to run and it was also getting difficult for him to keep up with his students over the years.
"I get tired now when training my students because they have to run between 1km and 5km every practice. If there are three students, I will have to run with all three of them."
The Caballus RAFVI allows his visually impaired students more freedom in running while also giving him space to steer from the back
Cikgu Azam said he created the first prototype with PVC pipes and joint connectors using his own pocket money. He has also made improvements on it with the help of his fellow teachers after receiving feedback.
In an interview with Malay Mail, the dedicated teacher said he also often tries to come up with activities, projects, and other inventions to instil confidence in his special needs students.
He said they are so often limited by their low self-esteem.
"It is disappointing to see that they are smart kids, but they are so used to their closed environment up to the point they don't want to get to know the outside world. Even though they're visually impaired or blind, they deserve to explore the outside world," he said.
Cikgu Azam revealed that he has built five other inventions for his students, including a newer version of the Caballus
"Each invention is made specifically according to a student's problem," he said.
He added that he is thankful that his first creation has received a lot of positive feedback, not only from TikTok but also from the Selangor State Education Department. He has also won an innovation award in a competition organised by the Teachers' Training Institute from Miri, Sarawak.
"The positive feedback certainly inspires me to produce more creations as well as contribute to my special students' lives," he said.
He believes there are other local special education teachers who have built innovative devices for their students, and hopes that they will also be given the spotlight.