SPD Education Programme 2007

Singapore, 21 January 2007 – Disabled students benefit from helping others

  • Physically disabled students help in community service effort to build canteen and computer centre in primary school in Thailand
  • Handbook to help teachers support disabled students to be launched in July 2007
  • Close to $300,000 in education awards to be disbursed to about 250 students with physical disabilities and students with physically disabled parents

You don’t have to be able bodied and advantaged to be able to help others – this is what – 19-year-old Sabrina Leow learnt in December last year. Having Cerebral Palsy did not stop her from joining 21 other students from ITE College Central in helping to build a canteen and computer centre in a rundown primary school in Thailand.

Sabrina, who studies multimedia at ITE College Central (MacPherson Campus), was one of two physically disabled students taking part in the community service effort in Ban Thung Yao School in Chiangrai province. The school’s premises were in urgent need of repair, with the canteen and computer room identified as the most urgent.

As part of the SPD Education Programme’s objective to instil confidence and encourage self reliance, SPD partnered and worked with ITE to include the students in the trip, providing them with much assistance. Social workers secured commodes, helped with their travel expenses, and provided travel advice. They also organised a talk for the teachers and students, on how to handle and support the two participants with special needs

The SPD Education Programme has gone beyond merely providing financial support like it did when it first started in 1985. Today, it aims to develop students to be well-rounded individuals, and organises activities such as enrichment workshops, sporting clinics, adventure camps amongst others, through the StarHub-SPD Learning & Development Centre.

This year, the programme will focus on cultivating an attitude of service among the students, to help them see that they should not always be on the receiving end, but that they can contribute to the community as well. Through serving, SPD hopes that they will develop in confidence and character.

Plans in the pipeline include at least two other community service efforts so that other disabled students can contribute in local and overseas community service projects. A training programme consisting of team-building activities and physical training has been designed to prepare students for an upcoming expedition, as well as a workshop on how to plan a community service project.

Judging by what Sabrina and others gained from their experience in Chiangrai, this direction is set to benefit all.

This is my first trip out of Singapore, and it was really an eye-opening experience for me. After seeing how the locals in Chiangrai live, I appreciate life in Singapore even more. I’m happy SPD gave me this opportunity to go for this trip. I hope to go back to Chiangrai again to help,” said Sabrina.

Angela (SPD social worker) provided valuable advice and insights on how to work with our disabled team members, which came in useful during the trip! Seeing everyone coming together to help them during the trip has bonded students and teachers. The trip has been a great experience for us all,” said Mr Norman Liew, Lecturer, ITE College Central (Bishan), and co-ordinator for the trip.

The SPD Education Programme also reaches out to teachers in the child’s network. Following its first Teachers Seminar in August last year, SPD came up with the idea of publishing a handbook which would be a resource tool for teachers working with disabled students in mainstream schools. It will provide information on resources available in the community, and educate on how to support the students into the classroom. The handbook is scheduled to be launched in July this year.

This will be announced at the disbursement of the Harry Elias Partnership-SPD Bursary Award to be held on 27 January at Downtown East. Guest-of-Honour Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State for Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower, will be presenting $250,550 to 242 physically disabled students and students with physically disabled parents, from primary to tertiary levels. The bursary is to help level the playing field for the students as they work towards a brighter future.

At the same event, three students will also be receiving scholarships to award them for their outstanding academic achievements, and to encourage them to aspire to higher levels as they continue their studies in the universities.

As part of the integration support programme for eight physically disabled students in Evergreen Primary School, SPD’s social workers and therapists will work with the teachers to address handling, support, etiquette, available resources, terminologies and psychosocial aspects relating to disabled students.

We are glad to work with SPD to help integrate children with disabilities into Evergreen Primary School. With their help, we hope our teachers will be better equipped to help these students fit in, so that they can enjoy their educational experience like any other student,” said Mr Tan Kah Teo, principal of Evergreen Primary School.

The SPD Education Programme has matured over the years. We now have the experience and expertise as well as an established network with community organisations. The next step is to work with MOE and NCSS to be a major service provider in the integration support programme so that we can better deliver the services to support students with physical disabilities in their integration into mainstream schools, and ultimately, into society.” said Dr Ow Chee Chung, Executive Director of SPD.