Disabled Athletes to Receive Award to Develop Further in Sports

28 January 2011, Singapore – Athletes Yip Pin Xiu and Choo Leng Hin, representatives of Singapore’s disabled sporting contingent in various international competitions and winners of multiple medals, can look forward to more support in funding to help them in their sport. Both beat four applicants to clinch the SPD Youth Aspiration Award offered by the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) for the second year.

The award is given to inspire talented youths with physical disabilities from Secondary 1 to university levels to pursue their interests outside of the academic arena. The only one of its kind that is exclusive to youths with physical disabilities, the award provides a grant of up to S$5,000 per recipient to be used in the year to develop an interest or talent in the areas of visual and performing arts, sports and community service, covering such expenses as training sessions and equipment purchase.

Started in 2010, two awards are given out yearly to Singapore citizens or permanent residents who demonstrate a strong interest and involvement in their areas of interest.

For top athlete Yip Pin Xiu who has muscular dystrophy, the award, yet another feather in her already laden cap, will be used to pay for training and supplements to prepare her for upcoming competitions. Swimming since the age of five, Yip Pin Xiu’s love for the sport has brought her around the world and “saved my life” as she would describe it, “Swimming gives me confidence as well as motivates me to do well in other aspects of my life. It is something which I am committed to and passionate about. Hence, to receive the SPD Youth Aspiration Award is really a bonus, recognition of the effort and hours I have put in. This Award is dedicated to my family and all those who have supported me in my journey without whom, I would not be able to be where I am now.”

For 15-year-old Leng Hin who wears out his running shoes at a rate of a pair a month, the award will come in handy in getting proper apparel for training and competition as those are not always readily available. The runner only started competing in the sport in 2008 and has already won Singapore’s first ever medal at the Asian Youth Para Games in 2009.

Although Leng Hin acquired a brain injury at birth which affects his ability to control the finer movements in the right side of his body, his passion for sports saw him represent Singapore in international running events in Japan, Germany and most recently at the ASEAN Para Games held in Guangzhou, China.

The award will be given out at the annual SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony by Guest-of-Honour Mr Koo Tsai Kee, Minister of State for Defence and Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC. The event, to be held at the SPD Ability Centre on 28 January 2011, will also see S$91,200 in bursary awards presented to 129 students with disabilities and students whose parents are disabled. The NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Award is made possible with the sponsorship of NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd.

For the first time, this year’s 102 Primary and Secondary school bursary recipients will also receive book vouchers worth a total of S$8,010, thanks to the contribution of Credit Suisse. The book vouchers is given to help defray the cost of purchasing text and assessment books, leaving the bursaries for the payment of school fees and for pocket money and any other school-related expenses.

107 of the bursary award recipients will also be receiving the SPD Service Card bearing an additional S$300 each which can be used for enrolment in programmes and services at SPD such as therapy, enrichment classes and IT training. The additional help ensures that students and parents with disabilities will not be deprived of essential services to help them maximise their potential.

The awards are given as part of the SPD Education Programme, which was started in 1985 to help level the playing field for students with disabilities while they pursue their academic studies. Having simply offered education bursary awards in the earlier years to alleviate financial constraints, it has evolved over time to meet other needs of the students with disabilities by offering a more holistic support that would help in their development. This includes counseling, tuition support, enrichment courses and even collaboration with schools to ensure all-round care for individual students with physical disabilities. The provision of tuition support and enrichment courses this year are offered with the support of the National Institute of Education and Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.

“NatSteel is committed to doing our part for the society through our CSR programme, ‘Building Beyond Borders’, which seeks to empower the disadvantaged children, youth and elderly. The NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Awards is an extension of this belief. We are pleased to partner SPD for the third time in this worthy cause of supporting the education of students with disabilities and students with disabled parents.” said Mr Vivek Kamra, President and CEO of NatSteel Holdings.

“Over the years, we have seen our students graduate, find employment and contribute meaningfully back to society. This gives us immense pride and also reinforces the need for such an Education Programme that aims to level the playing field for students with disabilities and students with disabled parents. We are grateful that corporate partners like NatSteel Holdings, NIE, HSBC and Credit Suisse share the same belief that these children should be given the opportunity to an equal start in life as everyone else to realise their full potentials,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD and Chairperson of the SPD Education Programme Award Committee.

“We didn’t know about the SPD Education Programme until last year when Wee En’s teacher told us about it. Today, Wee En is receiving the bursary award to help him in school. SPD is also giving him tuition subsidy. All these will be a great help to the family,” said Mdm Toh Ai Choo, mother of 10-year-old Ang Wee En, who just enrolled under the SPD Education Programme.