20 YEARS ON AND BEYOND!
It was in 1988 that I first heard of the VITAL YEARS Programme. I was helping a friend in her nursery and one of her children was going for English lessons at a place called VITAL YEARS. I even had a peek into the first core book. Later that year I had to come back to Kuantan to take over the kindergarten set up by my late brother.
In 1997, my niece went to the VITAL YEARS Centre in Wangsa Maju. Something in me lit up. Could it be the same VITAL YEARS that I have heard about in 1988? I asked my sister to set up a meeting with the owners. I remembered Junie calling up and setting up a meeting. She flew into Kuantan. As I had never met her, I did what I saw people do on TV. I flashed her name on a large cardboard at the arrival gates.
I did not know how Junie Leow would have felt meeting me. To me it was comfortable, like meeting an old friend. Surprisingly I knew her aunt and her family. That was the beginning of a relationship that spans nearly 19 years and still going strong.
When Junie shared with me the vision of VITAL YEARS, my heart said, “Yes! Yes! Yes! That is how I would like to teach English and pass on my legacy of English to the young ones.” Thus, we embarked on a programme called Your Child Can Read (YCCR) for my kindergarten children starting in 1998.
In 1999, Junie mooted the idea of franchise centres and I was very keen. I said, “Yes!” Before this, I had extra VITAL YEARS classes at the kindergarten in the evening. I was very fortunate that I had a group of teachers who supported me in this project. Moving to a franchise centre was a natural progress.
My target was to be the first franchisee. However, due to official approval delays and hiccups I was second, but never mind I am still the longest. I opened my first centre on October 31, 1999. We went through changes and upgrading together. We saw the network grow. We also saw some downsides. As I believe a franchisee and franchisor’s relationship is synergistic, we need to work to keep it good all the time. We can always resolve issues.
I am happy to be a VITAL YEARS Franchisee. VITAL YEARS has given me a very profitable business. I have a large network of friends and supporters. The number of students that have walked through the doors of VITAL YEARS Kuantan has exceeded 2000 since we opened.
I salute VITAL YEARS and Mrs. Lam Kam Foong, the originator of the programme. May the coming years be good too.
Leong Lee Suan
Owner & Centre Director
VITAL YEARS Kuantan