ASEAN Para Games Medallists Join Youths with Disabilities in Getting Education and Talent Development Support

The SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony 2016 was held at The Chevrons on 23 January. We invited Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth as the Guest-of-Honour. [...]

The SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony 2016 was held at The Chevrons on 23 January. We invited Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth as the Guest-of-Honour. She presented bursaries to 84 students and the SPD Youth Aspiration Award to four youths.

SPD Youth Aspiration Award
The award was presented to four youths with disabilities, the most presented in a year since the award was introduced in 2010. Administered by SPD and sponsored by NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd, the SPD Youth Aspiration Award comes with a $5,000 grant that allows youths with physical disabilities to develop their interests and talents in the areas of visual and performing arts, sports and community service.

ASEAN Para Games (APG) medallists Ritchie Chan and Alvina Neo were diagnosed with spina bifida when young. Despite their mobility impairments, both developed a keen interest in sports and excelled in it.

Having started out in competitive handcycling but stopped due to a shoulder injury sustained at the APG 2014 in Korea, Alvina represented Singapore in air pistol at this year’s APG where she won a bronze medal in the women’s individual finals. The award will come in handy for Alvina as she intends to go back into competitive handcycling.

Ritchie, who took up sports in Primary 2 to prove that he is an equal to his peers, shocked the shooting fraternity by becoming the youngest winning shooter at the APG, bagging silver in the R1 Men’s Air Rifle (Standing). With talent and a lot of hard work, Ritchie hopes to be good enough to be a shooting coach one day.

Also receiving the award were 14-year-old Tan Kok Yew and 21-year-old Edgar Cheong. Kok Yew, who lost his right forearm in an accident a decade ago, is no stranger to SPD, having received the SPD Education Programme Bursary since he was in Primary school. The aspiring dancer had performed a dance item at the SPD Charity Show 2015 and aspires to be a dance teacher one day to spread to others, especially persons with disabilities, the joy of dancing.

Also one who spreads positivity wherever he goes, Edgar exudes passion when it comes to community service and advocacy. Although he requires assistance in certain activities of daily living due to the spinal cord injuries he sustained when he was only 17, Edgar aspires to help through community work people who “have fallen through the cracks”. He is looking forward to forming an interest group for youths with disabilities to make a difference through ideas that benefit youths and persons with disabilities in general.

NatSteel-SPD Education Progamme Bursary
This year, 84 students with physical disabilities and students whose parent(s) have physical disabilities and are from low-income families received $56,150 in bursaries from NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd to help alleviate some of their financial hardships.

“Education is a powerful enabler that can transform lives and we are happy to be part of this meaningful programme. We are glad that our contributions help the students financially, so that they can focus on achieving academic excellence and developing their talents,”

said Mr Ashish Anupam, President and Chief Executive Officer of NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd.

NatSteel has been contributing to the SPD Education Programme Bursary Award and the SPD Youth Aspiration Award since 2009 and 2014 respectively.

“The SPD Education Programme is important for our students and we would not have been able to sustain it for the last 30 years had we not received the support from individuals and corporate partners, such as NatSteel Holdings, who share our vision. Their unwavering support has helped lighten the financial burden of countless families and enabled our youth to get closer to their academic and aspirational achievements,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD.

Since 1985, more than 3,700 bursaries amounting to about $3.1 million have been awarded to help students from low-income families cope with expenses related to the students’ studies in mainstream schools. It has since evolved to meet other needs of the students with disabilities by offering a more holistic support which includes counselling, tuition support, enrichment courses and even collaboration with schools, to ensure all-round care for the students. The support is extended to students from primary to tertiary levels including those at ITE, pre-universities, junior colleges, polytechnics and universities.