Youths with Disabilities Promote Inclusion in Schools | SPD - Singapore

Youths with Disabilities Promote Inclusion in Schools


*Article updated on 11 July 2018

Joshua and Zi Lin, founders of Team Alluvial.

Joshua Ong and Teo Zi Lin first got acquainted in 2016 through the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities which SPD administers. They were among the three award recipients that year. The two hit it off almost instantly and became fast friends.

These two youngsters have come a long way. Joshua, 22, was diagnosed with Juvenile Open-Angle Glaucoma when he was in secondary school, which led to severe vision loss in both eyes and many trips to the hospital for surgeries. Zi Lin, 21, had high fever when she was 8 and that affected her hearing and speech development.

Joshua and Zi Lin often talked about issues that they care deeply about – greater social inclusion for people with disabilities, changing public attitudes and increasing public confidence in interacting with those with disabilities.

An opportunity to work together and advocate for inclusion arose early last year when they were both invited to join our Youth Development Programme (YDP).

The two undergraduates decided that the YDP was an excellent platform to put their thoughts into action and Team Alluvial was conceived. They secured the $3,000 seed money and won an additional $1,500 in bonus to fund the project.

Team Alluvial brought experiential learning to the community by allowing participants to experience daily life as a person with visual impairment through simulated activities using blindfolds and modified glasses. They taught the community the proper etiquette of interacting with a person with disabilities. The ultimate goal was a more inclusive Singapore for people with disabilities.

“We hope that Team Alluvial can promote awareness regarding the inclusiveness of people with disabilities through the cultivation and empowerment of inclusive minds. Our programme takes a holistic approach, which allows participants to dive right into life as a person with disability,” said Joshua.

The team carried out their first outreach session in Hougang Secondary School with close to 30 students. While their current focus was to raise awareness for people with visual impairments, the duo also wanted to expand their scope to other disability areas such as hearing impairments and physical disabilities.

“We are looking to explore simulation activities for the hearing impaired too. It is a little more challenging as hearing impairment is not something that is visible and it sometimes gets overlooked. We are thinking of ways to make it a part of our programme,” said Zi Lin.

A blind simulation exercise done for some of the staff from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Over two sessions, close to 30 students from Hougang Secondary School got to know more about the disabled community.

“What started off as a simple idea to spread disability awareness has materialised into a project that has great potential to grow and impact more people. Being able to witness and support Zi Lin and Joshua’s project has been nothing short of exciting,” said Ms Rachel Loh, SPD’s social worker, who has been working and aiding Team Alluvial since its inception.

In December last year, they did a blind simulation programme for 25 staff from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The pair planned and conducted the workshop which involved mobility training and a blind navigational experience.

Close to 25 staff from the PMO attended a one-day workshop organised by Team Alluvial.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Team Alluvial or to be a volunteer, please contact

About Youth Development Programme

YDP is a training and mentorship programme that SPD introduced, with the full support of APB Foundation, to nurture a new generation of youths to champion disability causes. The year-long programme, which started in February 2017, aimed to enable and empower youths with disabilities to give back to society. It comprised training to equip participants with disabilities knowledge and technical skills such as project planning, pitch, and budgeting. The programme also included the executional phase where participants were guided by mentors to implement projects that help enhance inclusion in the community, with a seed funding of $3,000. The second run of the YDP will take place between September 2018 and January 2019.