Happy Hatters Unite for Inclusion at the SPD Ability Fun Walk

A sea of yellow and green was spotted at the Punggol Waterway Park in the early hours of 10 September as more than 1,000 participants of the inaugural SPD Ability [...]

A sea of yellow and green was spotted at the Punggol Waterway Park in the early hours of 10 September as more than 1,000 participants of the inaugural SPD Ability Fun Walk turned up in their top hats as a show of support for people with special needs.

We had expected volunteers and participants to turn up bleary eyed, having to wake up early on a Saturday morning. However, true to the theme of ‘Happy Hatters’, everyone turned up with infectious enthusiasm at the start point, all raring to go!

Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education, as well as Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris – Punggol GRC, flagged off the walk before jumping off the platform to join 50 trainees with disabilities from the SPD Sheltered Workshop who also took part in the walk.

The participants took in the many sights and colours as they strolled along the waterway. They took pictures at standees erected underneath one of the bridges and a trio of SPD staff gave all a pleasant surprise, charming the lot with sounds of laid-back country flavour from the strumming of their ukuleles.

The vibrant post-walk carnival that awaited participants at the finishing line was an abundance of fun, goodies and activities. SPD’s sponsors and partners served up all-time favourites such as cotton candy, cookies, ice-cream, muffins and kacang puteh.

FMC Technologies volunteers at their kachang puteh and cotton candy booth
Grand Corpthorne Waterfront Hotel were giving away muffins
Volunteers from Ling Zhong Ting Geomancy House at their swiss rolls booth
Melbourne Specialist International School and The Pantry Cookery School sponsored cookies
Melilea Singapore quenched our thirst with their organic soya milk
Our volunteers were distributing energy drinks provided by Pokka Singapore
And F&N Singapore provided ice-creams
Volunteers from Natural Healings provided spinal health screenings

Other than the bouncing castle for the kids, there were also games aimed at increasing disability awareness…

… as well as standees for memorable pictures.
Participants from Jurong Port sure were happy to have completed the walk

Sport Singapore set up areas for all to try out modified sports such as basketball, soccer and archery, tailored for the special needs community. Joey Teo, who works in a bank, enjoyed the carnival with her friends and their children after the walk. She tried her hand at the different modified sports offered by Sports Singapore. Enlightened on how people with disabilities go about the different sports and thoroughly impressed by their abilities, Joey said: “I think these activities are fun and encourage people with disabilities to be more active outdoors. We just need to take the step out to start being active.”

Basketball in seated position
Playing soccer whilst blindfolded
Modified archery

There was a string of performances and games too that entertained everyone.

The Punggol Secondary School concert band started the ball rolling in the post walk performances
The Punggol Secondary School dance sports group impressed with their Latin dances
PSB Academy’s Dance Club members showed some fancy moves on stage
MediaCorp artiste Paige Chua and 933FM DJ Xie Jiafa were good sport in the stage games with the walk participants and SPD clients
SPD Day Activity Centre’s singing group never fails to impress with their song medley
And an energetic Zumba workout wrapped up the stage activities

Long-time volunteer, Ms Frances Chua, who also trained the Day Activity Centre choir which performed at the carnival, came to support the event and her team with her family.

“It is wonderful to see the community coming together to raise awareness for the disability cause,” she said.

Entrepreneur Bryan Neo, who started a tuition agency that caters to persons with disabilities and employs tutors with disabilities as well, enjoyed the walk thoroughly. Quoting the beautiful scenery along the Punggol Waterway Park as one of the highlights, he felt that the walk was a great opportunity for more people to understand the disabled community. “It was nice seeing parents bringing their kids for this walk. I believe that inclusion starts at a young age and this early education will definitely contribute to building a more caring and inclusive society in Singapore for all,” he said.

SPD President Ms Chia Yong Yong was glad to see the enthusiasm and interaction of the walk participants. She said: “Events like today’s fun walk can go a long way in helping to change the mindset and acceptance of persons with special needs as it fosters greater understanding and raises awareness of disability issues. It creates opportunities for interaction. Building an inclusive society is everyone’s responsibility and we should continue with efforts that encourage interaction among those with special needs and those without.”

“SPD will continue our effort in advocating inclusion and acceptance of persons with disabilities,” she added.