Danny Ong, 44, is happily married to Christine, his wife whom he met while studying at Singapore Polytechnic. They have three lovely children; Brigton,13, Emilee,10 and Ashton, 6.
“And with that, we are known as the ABCDE family,” Danny said with a laugh, referring to the first alphabet in the names of each family member.
An aquatic educator of persons with special needs for 27 years, Danny specialises in aquatic teaching and management for persons with physical impairment, intellectual impairment, sensory impairment, as well as persons with medical conditions.
Danny started out as a volunteer coach to assist adults with physical impairment to learn swimming and water safety. He may be a father of three back home but at work, he is a father figure to 300 young students!
Danny shared: “My dream is to build a team of qualified swim educators to improve the quality of life for persons with impairment and special needs through the knowledge of science, and make inclusion learning a reality within the community in Singapore.”
Being an active parent, Danny usually swims, jogs or cycle. His kids will join him too whenever they can. He feels that sports and exercises are crucial for children as research has shown that movement aids learning. However, our minds do not like things that are too difficult and uncomfortable. Hence, it is important to make sports and exercise fun and manageable for our kids as this will help them to engage more actively.
When asked how he sets an example for his kids when it comes to staying active: Danny enthused: “By inviting them to join me in my weekly get active activity, and also taking part in sports event as a family. We will take part in at least two to three family runs or sports event every year!”
Due to his work schedule, the only fitness routine he has with his children is on weekends and school holidays usually. He tries to make up for loss time though during the school holidays.
As an educator for children with special needs, a typical work week for Danny comprises six days at the office (swimming pools) from 8.30 am to 9pm. He spends at least eight to ten hours in the pools, and another few hours doing paper work.
Wearing double hats as a father, as well as an educator, Danny is faced with many challenges daily.
“To be honest, I am less patient with my own children then I am to my students with special needs. This is one area that I consistently working on and seeking to get better in every difficult situation we faced. I am who I am today because of all my students with special needs and my own daughter, Emi, who is diagnosed with Selective Mutism and Dyslexic. They are my teachers in life more than I am their teacher,” said Danny.
He added: “I concluded that it is much easier to teach someone else’s child than my own children, but I will not give in to this challenge as I will always try to balance my role between a teacher and a father. We need to behave the way we want our child to be. Be brave to admit our mistakes and learn from it. Life is never about passing or failing. It is about falling, standing up and learning not to fall the same way again.”
There may be less hype around Father’s Day compared to Mother’s Day, but Danny takes it in his stride. Danny shared that the focus of the father figure within the family unit as a celebration subject has only evolved recently in the 19th to 20th centuries. Thus, he is not surprised that there is significantly less hype around Father’s Day.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, Danny is looking forward to his kids cooking or baking for him. With the current COVID-19 situation, he foresees that they will have more time to bond through games or baking and cooking as a family.
Danny has this piece of advice for all Dads out there this Father’s Day: “Show up for your family. Throw away the deeply rooted perception of men and rethink your biasedness about the definition of a father. A family is a unit and not a hierarchy. Let’s create a family that celebrates life every day without the reminder of a Father’s or Mother’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to all the good enough daddies out there and happy parenting.”