Cornflake cookies crafted with labour of love by disabled students

Students fights stigma through education and entrepreneurship

24 Mar 2024 03:03pm
The clinic's founder Datin Roziyaton Jamaludin said public negative attitude is one of the biggest barriers disabled people face, noting that employers and even institutions of higher learning, are often reluctant to accept them. - Photo by Bernama
The clinic's founder Datin Roziyaton Jamaludin said public negative attitude is one of the biggest barriers disabled people face, noting that employers and even institutions of higher learning, are often reluctant to accept them. - Photo by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR - Baking is said to be a great way to engage disabled children’s senses, improve their fine motor skills, boost their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

At K-Link Care Centre, vocational training is provided for special needs students (PwD) with a curriculum that prepares them for the workforce. One of the training programmes is baking.

Towards this end, the welfare centre has produced its very own cornflake cookies. What makes the cookies special is that they are crafted with a labour of love by students with disabilities.

Its founder Datin Roziyaton Jamaludin said public negative attitude is one of the biggest barriers disabled people face, noting that employers and even institutions of higher learning, are often reluctant to accept them.

Due to the stigma associated with special needs children and the perception that they would not be able to understand the lessons and could not handle tasks assigned, these children are regarded as ‘less functional’ among the community.

Compared to their nondisabled peers, students with disabilities are more likely to experience unemployment or underemployment, lower pay, and job dissatisfaction and that they are often taken advantage of by certain quarters.

But behind their weakness, there is something that the disabled can offer and for Roziyaton, she holds true to the principle that special needs people have talents that can be honed.

According to Roziyaton, she has not for once, disregarded the capabilities of the disabled children as she is confident that given the opportunity, they can learn new knowledge and succeed like other normal children.

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As such, the centre is focused on basic vocational and practical training in every learning syllabus, and what makes her proud is these children can now manage their own cornflake biscuit business.

Interestingly, the cornflake biscuit is a symbol of strength and determination for the centre to help boost the PwD’s socioeconomic empowerment.

It also reflects the children’s struggle in facing the various challenges in producing the cornflakes, which is also a platform for ensuring the survival of the centre’s operation.


Sharing her life’s journey, Roziyaton told Bernama, K-Link Care Centre currently operates in Indonesia and Malaysia. K-Link Care Centre was first established in Jakarta in 2013. To date, the Jakarta centre operates as an inclusive school at KLIS international school at the Sentul district of Bogor.

In 2015, it opened its second branch at Taman Bukit Permata, Batu Caves. K Link Care Centre’s focus is to teach these children to be self reliant, and the teachers are always there to guide them to be strong in facing the challenges despite their weaknesses.

Here, it’s just not about teaching these special needs students the art of baking cookies. For five trained teachers at the centre, they believe in patience as the mantra for training as the biscuit bakers are a group of disabled students who have medical conditions such as Down syndrome, autism, dyslexia, Prader-Willi syndrome.

Each teacher here has undergone Advanced Diploma in Special Needs Education for one year sponsored by the centre. An PwD child was born with a disorder, either physical or mental. Every disabled child must be given proper education and training. This is in line with the National Education Policy that every child has the right to formal education in school.

She said that these children should not be left alone without any guidance and education in going through their life’s journey and not everyone can deal with their tantrums or sudden change in behaviour.

"As a mother who has a daughter with Down syndrome, Shamil Adyanee, 24, (who is a student at the centre) I know what it’s like to have a disabled child. I’m always concerned with her wellbeing and the challenges that she may face in the future.

"It is for this reason that I have set up this centre to help more families with disabled children, just like my daughter.

"At this centre, we strive to teach the students lead a good life, just like other normal kids. Here, we provide the basic literacy of reading, writing and counting (3M). However, all these are practical lessons.

For example, as a start to cornflake biscuit making, the students are taken to supermarkets to buy the ingredients needed. They will list down the items and personally handle the expenses and the goods to buy.

Other classes include communication, Islamic education, arts, gym, besides vocational and therapy sessions.

At this centre, the learning sessions are divided into two, namely the junior session from infants to 12 years old starting from 9.30 am to 1 pm, while classes for seniors (13 and above) are from 1.30 pm to 5 pm. K-Link Care Centre has also introduced apprenticeship groups for school leavers 19 years and above who signed up as students and trainees.

She also said that for cornflake baking, the teachers will train them on the measurements required for the dough, the right method to bake the biscuits, as well as the process for placing the baked biscuits in plastic containers.

"Teaching these children in carrying out their tasks is no mean task; it is extremely difficult and draining, with the journey fraught with challenges. Only Allah knows how difficult it is to teach them. Just imagine, some of these students have their limitations in terms of efficiency, due to problems faced such as Down syndrome, dyslexia or Prader-Willi syndrome among others.

"As such, the best way to teach them is to understand how they learn. In regular schools, students will learn from what is taught by their teachers with one curriculum, unlike lessons for the disabled. Every child comes with individual learning lessons and we have to find the most suitable approach for them to understand a subject and focus on their strengths,” she added.


At K-Linkcare Centre, the key principle adopted is patience to ensure the students can successfully produce their cornflake biscuits.

"Every child comes with different skills and problems. We have conducted indepth research and planning before starting a project for our children at K-Linkcare Centre. Every project must be PwD-friendly to ensure that all students are involved.

"No student will be left behind due to their weaknesses. For example, it would be much easier for PwD students to use the ‘drop cookies’ concept as no baking mould is needed. Preparation for the ingredients is also simple and does not involve many processes. Students only need to mix all ingredients, kneading and pressing the dough before they are placed in the tray and ready for baking.

"However, we still face problems such as consistency and the standard of biscuits produced in terms of shape, looks, colour and how the biscuits are arranged in the cookie jar. We want to ensure that the product meets the criteria in the marketplace and not out of sympathy for the PwD children.

"We do want to train them to handle all processes for making the biscuits, from the beginning till the end, but at the same time, we have to be prepared for all eventualities. For example, today if we have targeted to produce 10 cookie jars, we may not be able to produce all as the total jars could be less than that.

"There are some biscuits that are too small or too big. Some take too long for baking to the extent the biscuits end up burnt due to neglect. Some of the biscuits are chipped during packaging. There are many limitations faced in producing just one cookie jar from these special needs children, but we should not give up easily, "she added.

Asked on safety of these children in the event that some need to handle the kitchen appliances such as knives, microwave oven, she said the five teachers will fully focus on the students to ensure no one is injured or is faced with untoward incidents.

These children are already trained from the beginning to use the equipment at the centre. Some parents do not want their children in household chores due to their weaknesses. However, at K-Link Care Centre, we have stressed from the beginning on the use of equipment at every class and our focus is towards vocational education and self-reliance.


She also said that the centre will only start producing the biscuits on receiving early orders from customers, noting that they will be based on the total orders received to ensure the biscuits produced are fresh for a longer period and are of high quality.

To date, the average cornflake biscuits sold every month are around 30 jars, while the high orders received are usually during festive seasons. In 2023, the centre received 300 cornflake cookie jars during Hari Raya, with the same amount targeted for this year’s Raya.

Besides that, the centre also receives orders for doorgifts for wedding receptions. The latest was orders for 2,000 small cornflake cookie jars for a wedding reception in April last year, which shows the encouraging public response received for its product.

She also said that part of the proceeds from the sales would go to the children involved in the project as well as the teachers to help them generate alternative income with the rest channelled to the centre’s operating funds.

Roziyaton also said that the centre also produces other food products including the classic fruit cakes with its own recipe. For this year, the centre also produces raya hampers for clients.

Besides that, K-Linkcare Centre is also engaged in the cultivation of oyster mushrooms, since 2020 in a special room at the second floor of the building. It now produces 2,000 mushroom blocks from 20 at the onset. Children at the centre will be trained to pluck mushrooms, weigh them and place them in packages to be sold to the surrounding areas. At the same time, the centre also provides a laundry service for parents and the nearby community.

Roziyaton said all programmes are prepared to help the PwD to be self reliant and enjoy the same support as others. The centre also plans to introduce new programmes for the benefit of special needs students in the future. - BERNAMA