SINGAPORE, 2 September 2018 – More than 1,000 people turned up at the Singapore River this morning for the SPD Ability Walk 2018 as the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) hosted the event this year. Organised by SPD, a local charity that helps people with disabilities, the 3km walk aimed to raise funds and awareness for the inclusion of people with disabilities and was flagged off by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Communications and Information, Ms Sim Ann.
Madam Mariam Binte Ibrahim, a stroke survivor and wheelchair user, was one of the 60 SPD clients who joined in the charity walk with her friends from the SPD Sheltered Workshop. The 61-year-old remembered the Singapore River to be foul-smelling and dirty. She also vaguely recalled the bustling trading activities along the quayside. That was more than 30 years ago.
“Singapore River looks so different from last time. I am happy that I came for the walk. The scenery is beautiful and there are so many people,” said Madam Mariam.
In its third year, the SPD Ability Walk attracted participation from all over the community. Several companies had rallied their staff and signed them up for the event.
One such company was a Japanese manufacturing firm with more than 40 participants.
“We found this to be a fun and meaningful CSR event that we could all take part in with our colleagues and family. Many of our staff expressed keen interest and we are happy to be here this morning to support this worthy cause,” said its senior human resource executive, Ms Serene Lam.
Encouraged by the turn out, Ms Sim Ann said: “Singapore is home to people of all abilities. Events like the SPD Ability Walk provide opportunities for corporates, volunteers, as well as participants with and without disabilities to come together. The strong turnout sends a clear message that all of us can play a part in growing the SG Cares movement, and making Singapore a more caring and inclusive society.”
Experiential activities to raise awareness and evoke empathy were highlights at the SPD Ability Walk. This year, a three-legged challenge and a simple wheelchair obstacle course were incorporated along sections of the route. Through these activities, participants had the opportunity to experience the limitations that a wheelchair user or a person with mobility impairment faces daily.
In addition, participants also tried out inclusion sports such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair archery and boccia, a sport originally developed for people with cerebral palsy, at the post-walk carnival. The sign language and braille booths were also popular with many as they printed their names in braille and special sign language stamps.
Performances by SPD’s Day Activity Centre clients and former scholarship recipient Josiah Ong reminded the audience that everyone is capable of fulfilling their aspirations.
“I volunteered to play a part because I wanted to be part of the walk in my own way. Hopefully, I got to encourage people with my song,” said Josiah who benefited from a scholarship programme that SPD was administering.
The ACM, which is wheelchair accessible, offered its main grounds for the post-walk carnival. It also granted free entry to all participants of the walk today. The museum facilitates a wide range of programmes that encourage persons with disabilities to visit, enjoy and learn more about the history and art history of Asia through the lens of Singapore.
“The SPD Ability Walk has created opportunities for more interaction and opened up conversations about disabilities in the community. These are important building blocks in helping us achieve greater understanding and acceptance of persons with disabilities. We want to say a big thank you to all our sponsors, volunteers, supporters and participants for helping to pave the way for an inclusive community,” said Mr Winston Ngan, vice-president of SPD.