Singapore, 8 March 2005 – More than $74,000 was raised from sales of a Christmas album by Vocaluptuous, a local a capella group, to purchase a vehicle to transport physically disabled persons for employment, training and rehabilitation daily.
Many people with physical disabilities are unable to travel independently on the current public transport because not all the public transport infrastructures are accessible to them. Taxis can be too costly an option. Recognizing this, The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) runs a fleet of 10 specially-adapted vehicles and engages eight more to transport about 160 disabled persons daily to the SPD Ability Centre.
SPD fleet operates island-wide to enable as many disabled people as possible to come to the SPD Ability Centre to receive its services. The fleet operates at maximum capacity with more than 80 trips made daily and will clock more than 23,000 trips for this year.
About 220 people with physical disabilities visit the SPD Ability Centre daily for vocational skills training, sheltered employment, rehabilitation and other care services offered by SPD. Without suitable transport provided, most would miss out on much-needed support and services offered.
Mr Rodney Rodrigues is one of beneficiaries who rely on SPD’s transport service daily. He had a stroke in September 2003 and began joining SPD’s programmes in 2004. He is hoping to find employment again in mainstream society and is receiving vocational skills training at the Work Activity Centre along with other physically disabled persons.
The public transport system is inaccessible to Rodney. “The new van will be a big help to others like me who cannot walk steadily. We don’t have to worry about falling down in the van. It is also cheaper than taking a taxi. More disabled people can come here so that they can learn to walk properly or be trained for work next time,” said Rodney.
The new vehicle was handed over to SPD in an official ceremony held on 8 March 2005. It is specially modified with a hydraulic lift and safety devices and took nine months from ordering to delivery. It can ferry up to 6 wheelchairs and five mobile persons. The transport service is heavily subsidized by SPD – clients pay a nominal fee of $25 to $45 a month for the two-way trip.
Recognising the importance of an accessible transport system for the disabled, the Rotary Club of Singapore West got together with Vocaluptuous to produce and market the Christmas album ‘All Wrapped Up’ in October 2003 for the purchase of the van. The album was sold through their network of friends and through EMI’s marketing channels. To promote the album, Vocaluptuous also staged gigs at shopping centres during that Christmas season.
“When we heard that the Rotary Club of Singapore West was organizing a fundraising project for SPD, we thought that it was a great opportunity to do something for charity. We are happy that we could put our love for singing to help physically disabled people,” said Simone Khoo, a member of Vocaluptuous.
“As the Rotary Club of Singapore West was instrumental in the setting up SPD 40 years ago, it was very natural for the Club to continue to support SPD’s work. We are pleased that Club members had participated actively to buy the new van for the Society’s beneficiaries,” said Mr Tay Wei Lien, Immediate Past President of Rotary Club of Singapore West.
“The transport fleet is a very critical part of the service provision for the disabled,” said Mr See Cher, President of SPD. “We are grateful to have the support of The Rotary Club of Singapore West, Vocaluptuous and Myx Music Studios for the generous gift of this new vehicle that is more spacious and comes with special features to ensure the safety of its passengers”.