Administered by SPD and sponsored by NatSteel Holdings, the SPD Youth Aspiration Award provides a $5,000 grant that allows youths with disabilities to develop their interests and talents in the areas of visual and performing arts, sports and community service.
13-year-old Anastasia Mary Chieng may be the youngest of the SPD Youth Aspiration Award 2017 recipients, but her dreams and aspirations are anything but ordinary. Diagnosed at birth with transposition of the great arteries, a rare heart condition, and profound hearing loss in the right ear, Anastasia is no stranger to surgeries and hospital visits. She had to undergo an open heart surgery just six days into her birth. However, true to her mantra ‘live life to the fullest, and never give up on the things that matter to you’, she picked up music at four and went on to learn the electone, drums and violin. Anastasia is determined to do well in drumming and aims to be a music teacher to children in the future.
Born with congenital hand disorder on his left hand, 17-year-old Chew Chee Siang has embarked on a long journey of self-discovery to reach his current position. Initially deemed as a trouble maker in primary school, he slowly learnt to recognise his own strengths in leadership and understood the meaning of giving back to the society. He now believes in “making the most of my time here, given how short a lifetime we have to create impact and benefit the lives around us.” This has inspired him to engage in community service and encourage civic mindedness in his fellow peers.
“Life’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.” Many of us will recall this famous line from Rocky, but this is the life motto of 20-year-old track and field athlete Muhammad Ariff as well. No one would have guessed the strapping youth was once obese when he was younger, and often teased for having a hearing impairment. Inspired by his father, a former national athlete, he now taps on his natural flair for running to impact himself and others around him and to inspire young kids to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Also one to train hard to overcome barriers in pursuit of becoming a better person is 23-year-old Then An Zhi. He leads an active lifestyle engaging in Dragon Boat with his peers. He was diagnosed at birth with severe hearing impairment in his left ear, and has faced several challenges throughout life ranging from social awkwardness to miscommunication during conversations. The one thing that has kept him going, however, is his commitment to his sport. Citing former First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, as an inspiration, An Zhi enjoys listening to her speeches to motivate and push himself out of his comfort zone. Other than improving in his sport of Dragon Boat, An Zhi aspires to be a professional software engineer and to put to use his abilities and knowledge in creating software applications to improve the lives of his peers and the elderly.