Speech for SPD Education Programme 2011
28 Jan 2011
Speech by Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD Board of Management & Chairperson, SPD Education Programme, at the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony on Friday 28 January 2011, at 4.30pm at Society for the Physically Disabled.
Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee
Minister of State for Defence
Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC
Mr Vivek Kamra, Chief Executive Officer
NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd
Mr Joseph Yong, Chief Operating Officer
NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd
Ladies and gentlemen
Boys and girls
1. On behalf of SPD, I would like to thank our Guest-of-Honour, Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, Minister of State for Defence and Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, and distinguished guests for attending the ceremony this afternoon.
2. The SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony is a signature event for SPD at the start of every year. For us, it is a celebration of new beginnings. Every new year brings new hope, sparkling inspirations and bubbling aspiration.
3. The SPD Education Programme has, for over 25 years, been providing financial awards for students with physical disabilities and students with parents with physical disabilities, who are studying in mainstream schools. With this year’s disbursement of over $90,000 to more than 120 students, we would have helped over 3,200 individuals with close to $2.8 million. We hope that the bursaries will lighten the economic burden of our students and their families so that our students may focus on achieving their academic goals.
4. Apart from financial awards, the SPD Education Programme seeks to level the playing field for students with physical disabilities by offering a myriad of services including centre-based therapy services, social work support, subsidised tuition support and enrichment programmes. Through the provision of a range of holistic and structured programmes, SPD seeks to support these students so that they could fare competently in their schools and communities.
5. By way of illustration, under our tuition support programme, financially needy students with mobility difficulties receive subsidies for their home tuition as travelling to neighbourhood tuition centres could be tiring and inconvenient for them. As such, SPD ensures that such students would not lose out and lag behind their peers due to lack of means.
6. Beyond the academics, in seeking to nurture well-rounded individuals, we will look into training a group of befrienders to mentor and guide our children and youths with physical disabilities. Though parents play a significant caregivers’ roles in their lives, mentors also have a significant role in guiding our students with physical disabilities as they negotiate the challenges of growing up and find their sense of self identity and place in this fast changing world. Through this mentoring programme, we strive to promote the emotional and mental resilience of our students with physical disabilities.
7. In 2009, we included a scheme under which recipients with physical disabilities and physically disabled parents of the recipients receive complimentary services at SPD, up to a value of $300 each year. Such services include therapy, assessment and consultation in assistive technology, and infocomm technology courses. The scheme will continue this year so that the recipients can benefit from the long term rehabilitative and support services.
8. This year, we are pleased to announce that there would be an enhancement of the SPD bursary package. In addition to the bursaries and complimentary services, this is the first year that we are disbursing Popular Bookstore vouchers worth a total of $8,010 to all 102 Primary and Secondary school bursary recipients. Primary school bursary award recipients will get an additional $60 and Secondary school recipients will get an additional $90 in book vouchers that would help defray the cost of purchasing their text and assessment books, leaving the bursaries for the payment of school fees and for pocket money and any other school-related expenses.
SPD’s provision of the bursaries, learning and development programmes and complimentary services for the past years as well as tuition subsidies and book vouchers this year stands as a firm testimony of our unwavering commitment to invest in the educational, rehabilitative and training needs of our students, the future builders of our society. We will continue to be the partner of choice in bringing out the best in our students through our range of holistic and structured programmes.
9. In line with our mission to enable persons with disabilities to achieve their fullest potential and lead productive and meaningful lives, the SPD Youth Aspiration Award has entered its second year. The award aims to inspire talented youths with physical disabilities to pursue their interests in 3 areas, namely visual and/or performing arts, sports and community service. The SPD Youth Aspiration Award provides a grant of up to $5,000 per recipient each year.
Today, we are going to present the award to 2 outstanding students who will be our first recipients under the sports category. They are Miss Yip Pin Xiu and Mr Choo Leng Hin, who have both created ripples in their respective competitive sports arena: in swimming for Pin Xiu, and for Leng Hin, athletics. In fact, both recently represented Singapore in the Guangzhou Asian Paralympics Games 2010. With local competitive sports gaining ground, especially heightened during the inaugural Youth Olympics in August 2010, our disabled sportsmen and women serve as an inspiration and exemplary role model to all of us, showing us that physical limitations present no barrier to achieving our dreams and aspirations. We hope that this award would open more doors for Pin Xiu and Leng Hin and further unlock their potentials. Equally important, we hope that this award will encourage more of our young people with disabilities to look beyond their disabilities, to exploit their potential and achieve their dreams.
10. I have shared about what SPD has done for students. We would not have been able to extend our help to the students and their families if not for the support we receive from the community. We are grateful to our sponsors for their contributions and here, I would like to acknowledge our main sponsor NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd for supporting the SPD Education Programme Bursary Awards for the last two years, the National Institute of Education for sponsoring the tuition subsidies, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited for supporting the Learning and Development programme and Credit Suisse, for sponsoring the book vouchers.
11. Through investing in the educational needs of our children and youth, you are generating a “multiplier effect” among the students as we equip them to make an impact on our society. You are enabling our students to aspire to higher heights of academic and personal achievements even as they work hard and persevere with the support of their families. As the proverb goes – “it takes a whole village to raise a child”.
12. I would also like to express my heartiest congratulations to our students and Youth Aspiration Award winners for your academic and sporting achievements. You have braved and overcome the challenges of the past year, and we wish you every success as you scale your own “Mount Everests”. To quote Dr Kurt Hahn, founder of Outwards Bound School, “Your disability is your opportunity”. May you be architects of your own destiny.
13. May this new year bring about a more inclusive and gracious community that would open its arms to children and youth with physical disabilities in pursuit of their dreams.
Thank you, and good day!