Speaking on the theme of resilience at the Children’s Day Concert at Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) in October, SPD President Ms Chia Yong Yong shared stories of her experience growing up with a disability. Here is a letter from one of the students, Valerie Lee, who shared how the speech impacted her.
We were honoured to have Ms Chia Yong Yong to speak to us on 6 October 2016, our Children’s Day celebration. She gave an extremely motivational speech that moved all of us.
Ms Chia, in her speech, talked about the different types of disabilities and the various assistive technology that were available. What impacted me most was her life story. At the age of ten, she had to walk on crutches. She was diagnosed with peroneal muscular atrophy when she was 15. She gradually had to depend on crutches, and later wheelchairs, as her muscle tissue progressively weakened. She has not been able to stand for 20 years and her hands have grown limp. At first, I did not know that her hands were not fully functional until I heard from a teacher that she had actually asked for a bottle of water with a straw because she could not grip the bottle firmly. As she relied on a wheelchair to move about, she could not even do Physical Education and exercise in school! However, her teachers and students did not treat her like she was different from them. They treated her just like she was one of them, without disabilities. With her good friend’s support, she eventually pulled through life and overcame her disability. In fact, Ms Chia is a successful lawyer now and a nominated Member of Parliament!
From this inspirational story, I have learnt to persevere and to have determination in everything I do, no matter what. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Truly, if Ms Chia can overcome her disability, so can we. I have also learnt that we need to more aware of people with disabilities and that disabled people are not different from us, that they simply have special needs.
I hope that every student, every teacher and every parent who heard her speech that day has taken it as a valuable life lesson and not something to be forgotten, something that has no value.
Thank you Ms Chia, for teaching us the importance of acceptance and perseverance.
Valerie Lee 5.6
Methodist Girls’ School (Primary)