I bit into a cheddar cheese bon and was surprised by the slightly chewy texture. A couple more bites later, I decided that I liked it. I broke the salted egg scone in half with little effort, felt the crust, examined the crumbly interior. I went through the rest of the goodies I have ordered: salted egg kaya with balanced sweetness, fluffy coconut-filled cocktail bun, fragrant salted egg cornflakes and crunchy chocolate chip cookies with a brownie-like center. Everything was quite delicious! I could not believe they were made by a 7-year-old boy!
I came across Jonah’s Instagram profile (@jonahbakes_happycookies) and was drawn firstly by his adorable smile, secondly his tasty-looking baked goods, and thirdly his disorder. Jonah was born with skeletal dysplasia, which causes abnormally shaped bones, especially in the head, spine and limbs. Untreated skeletal dysplasia can result in breathing difficulties, spinal problems and fluid build-up around the brain.
Despite that, Jonah’s mother, Miyumi Yanagi, said that Jonah has been baking since he was 4 years old, and that he has been wandering into the kitchen, watching and trying to help out since he was 2 years old! So, it was not surprising when Jonah told me that his dream is to be a baker, baking in his own bakery with his mother and his younger brother, Jamian.
Jonah currently attends a home-schooling centre where his teachers help him learn to read and write at his pace, as well as assisting with his physical and mobility needs. Jonah loves to play with his friends but have to be extra cautious because a small fall could lead to serious issues due to his brittle bones, like a fracture which he suffered in February this year.
After school and during weekends, Jonah gets busy in the kitchen, measuring ingredients, mixing and rolling doughs, with his mother’s help. “We are always baking side by side, as it is not easy for him to maneuver around or carry heavy flour and dough,” Yanagi explained. Jonah’s research and development resources are mainly from YouTube videos. “I want to learn to bake cakes next!” Jonah giggled.
“Raising a child with special needs alone can be challenging,” said Yanagi. “It is always important to nurture their passion and talent although their circumstances can be different. They can have dreams too and being different should never be the reason to stop them from achieving their dreams.”
Chi Yean Ng is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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