SPD Ability Fun Walk 2016 – Speech by Dr Janil Puthucheary

Ms Chia Yong Yong, 

President of SPD

Participants of the SPD Ability Fun Walk

Friends and supporters of SPD

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. A very big hello to the residents of Punggol, and to participants who have come from all corners of Singapore to support this meaningful event, a very warm welcome to Punggol! It is my great pleasure to join you this morning for SPD’s first charity walk. I hope everyone had a pleasant and enjoyable time.

2. Punggol, as most of you know, is one of the newest public housing developments in Singapore. Its eco-friendly focus and rustic waterfronts sets it apart from other HDB towns. The Punggol waterway that meanders through the Punggol township has a special place in the hearts of many residents. This is where people come to unwind or exercise, maybe to enjoy a leisurely stroll, and where kids come to play. It connects people and encourages community spirit to flourish.

3. Hence, I’m very happy that SPD has chosen this lovely park as the venue of its inaugural SPD Ability Fun Walk. Like many parks in Singapore, the Punggol Waterway Park has been designed to be wheelchair-friendly so that everyone can enjoy it. But it wasn’t always the case. It would have been quite challenging for a wheelchair user to get out of the house some 10 or 20 years ago.

4. Kudos to voluntary welfare organisations and disability advocacy groups such as SPD that have been engaging the authorities tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable groups in the community have equal opportunity and access to education, employment and participation in community activities.

5. While working with persons with disabilities to help them integrate into the society through its wide range of rehabilitation programmes, SPD also does a good job in advocating greater inclusion of people with special needs through public education. Changing of societal mindset and attitudes is key to inclusion.

6. Through the SPD Ability Fun Walk, I believe more people would get to learn more about disabilities. It is heartening to see able-bodied participants walking alongside those with disabilities. I see volunteers with sandwich boards bearing messages on disabilities on the event ground. I also see interesting sports and activities here that bring home the message of abilities and accommodation. Do stay on to enjoy these activities.

7. Besides the public, I was told that the event received the support of several corporate and community organisations – some are supporting SPD for the first time such as Jurong Port and Natural Healings. There are also long-time supporters of SPD such as FMC Technologies and Phillips 66 which came in not only with monetary support but they have also mobilised their staff to participate in the walk. I am encouraged by their positive response. Inclusion is the responsibility of everyone, and this event is a testament to that.

8. As our population grows and greys, there is greater urgency to strive on this journey of inclusion so that no one is left behind in our pursuit for economic success.

9. Lastly, I would like to congratulate SPD on the success of this event. To all the participants and volunteers of this event, I hope you will enjoy the rest of the morning in the park.

10. Thank you.