Joy started ASK-All Special Kids in 2003, as a direct response to the lack of support for Anglophone parents of children with learning differences and special educational needs. But Joy’s experience and passion for supporting the socially vulnerable and those with special needs has been a life-long labour of love.
The story of ASK – as well as Joy’s own story – is one of the individuals coming together and collectively overcoming significant challenges. A native of Burma, Joy immigrated to the US as a refugee in 1979 with her parents, two brothers, and four sisters. For more than two decades, Joy and her family lived out the American dream. Joy dedicated herself to the underprivileged, applying her law degree and schooling to co-found Burmese Women of New York, an advocacy group for the Burmese immigrant victims of domestic violence, families struggling with HIV/AIDS and those in need of assistance within the New York City school system. During this time Joy was the primary caregiver for her sister Linda, who has special needs and severe learning difficulties.
In 1992, Joy gave birth to a daughter, Allegra, who was born with overall low muscle tone and significant special needs. This was the start of a long journey involving much research, learning, and growth. In 2001, Joy relocated to Switzerland where she struggled to find the appropriate support for Allegra. She began to network with other parents in Geneva, sharing information and experiences and found that many were experiencing similar struggles in their search for specialists and support services for their children. By 2003, Joy, with the support of five parents, founded Anglophone Special Kids, a prelude to what is known today as ASK-All Special Kids. Joy has been the driving force behind ASK since it’s creation, finding solutions to meet the continually changing needs of a transient population. In 2018 ASK celebrated its 15th anniversary, a huge milestone for any organisation and without Joy’s service, passion and commitment ASK would not be where it is today. When asked how she keeps motivated, Joy will tell you that her inspiration comes from Allegra and children just like her.