Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development,
Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD,
A very good morning to all!
I am delighted to be back for my second Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities award ceremony. Last year the APB Foundation extended funding for the scholarships for another 3 years and funded two new programmes; the Youth Development Programme or YDP and Specialised Case Management Programme or SCMP.
New programmes are progressing well
The SCMP is making good progress. To date, more than 450 persons with disabilities and 100 caregivers have benefitted from the programme.
I will share one example. Mr Soh is 40 years old and was diagnosed with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and Prolapsed intervertebral disc. He progressively lost his ability to move about and is now a wheelchair user. He is also certified to be unfit for work and is an insomniac.
He was referred to the SCMP, where the case manager made several interventions to build rapport and trust with his family, and more importantly, alleviate their financial burdens. The interventions included a waiver of rehabilitation fees, transport and grocery vouchers.
Mr Soh slowly regained his confidence to leave home and increase his social participation. His mobility was made possible through funding for a lightweight wheelchair and ramps at his doorway, kitchen and toilet. Through these interventions, Mr Soh gradually learnt to be independent and confident. His mother also benefited from her caregiving burdens as she had given up her work to take care of Mr Soh.
I am told Mr Soh is now a budding entrepreneur, building his home hair stylist business and volunteering his services at SPD. This is an amazing example of how the SCMP can integrate persons with disabilities into mainstream society.
On the YDP, I am pleased to learn that 4 groups of youths with disabilities successfully completed the inaugural YDP mentorship programme, which ended with an exciting pitch session. These 4 groups developed their very own social projects to benefit other persons with disabilities. To further encourage these youths, we will provide $3,000 in seed funding for them to develop and implement their projects. And the winning team, Alluvial, will receive an additional 50% for winning the pitch session.
Through the YDP, we see the possibilities of harnessing the limitless creativity of our youths and empowering them to turn their disabilities into abilities and in the process benefit the wider community.
Brewing a Better World to meet Sustainable Development Goals
And it is through seeing possibilities to brew a better world over 23 years ago that we set up the APB Foundation to give back to the community. To date, the Foundation has disbursed over $10 million to various programmes to benefit Singaporeans.
Giving back to communities is one of our commitments under our Brewing a Better World strategy. We believe we have a responsibility to partner government and civil society to help deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity.
Our partnership and programmes with the SPD have clearly shown the way for private sector, government and civil society to come together to deliver on the SDGs. I must commend the SPD team for their unrelenting drive and passion to work towards the integration of people with disabilities into mainstream society.
Our exemplary scholars have chosen “Better”
As we celebrate and welcome a new batch of APBF scholars, I am reminded of Nick Vujicic. Nick, for those who know him, was born without limbs but went on to become a best-selling author and acclaimed motivational speaker. He recently tweeted:
In life you have a choice: Bitter or Better? Choose better, forget bitter.
You have a choice, choose better!
Take Joshua, one of our scholars this year. When his doctor told him he had to consider a career as a masseur because of his worsening eye condition, he choose “better” and embarked on a journey that will see him take up a degree in Information Systems. I am sure he now has bigger ambitions and ready to take on the world.
Ci En, our second scholar, has this to say: “Life is abundant with emotional possibilities. It is not how people value and see you, but how you live your life that matters.” Well said and he chose “better” to live his life. I applaud his positive attitude and confident he will make a success of his life.
Our third scholar, Kristina, suffered from visual impairment from an early age but emerged as a top student in her school for her ‘O’ levels. However, a serious road accident at 17 resulted in brain and secondary visual conditions. It was an immensely difficult and long recovery period for her but she preserved and graduated with a diploma. Although she is much older than her peers entering university, she chose “better” and is pursuing her dream and a career as a speech therapist so she can help people regain their speech ability.
You can imagine it must have been a difficult journey for each of our scholars. Besides them, we must also recognise their family members, caregivers, teachers and friends who have steadfastly supported them over the years. They too chose “better” and to see possibilities in our scholars.
Each and every one of us here too can choose “better” and in our own way make Singapore and the world a more inclusive society for all.
Lastly, my heartfelt congratulations to our scholars and their families!
I wish you an enjoyable morning ahead. Thank you!