Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD
Mr Ashish Anupam, President and CEO, NatSteel Holdings
Parents and Students
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning. I am pleased to be here for the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony.
2 Let me begin by congratulating the award recipients for your outstanding achievements and hard work. I am sure everyone around you, from your family to your teachers and of course SPD, are all very proud of you. Success is rarely a journey taken alone, and I believe everyone will continue to be with you, to help you succeed, and achieve greater heights in school and in life.
SPD Education Programme
3 I am especially encouraged that SPD has been a long-established partner in ensuring our youth receive an education, regardless of their financial backgrounds or physical conditions. For instance, for some 30 years (since 1985), the SPD Education Programme has been providing financial and other support to students with physical disabilities and to those whose parents are physically-disabled. In addition, SPD also actively runs programmes to raise the general awareness of the learning and social needs of students with disabilities. This will go a long way towards eventually helping students with disabilities integrate better into mainstream schools and society.
4 Beyond academics, I am also very happy to know that SPD supports and recognises our youth who do well in the arts, sports, community work. Through the Youth Aspiration Award, SPD opens up opportunities for them to pursue such interests, and to lead even more fulfilling lives. This year’s award recipients – Alvina Neo, Ritchie Chan, Tan Kok Yew and Edgar Cheong – each have a story of resilience and generosity of spirit serve that will inspire us.
Inspiring Award Winners
5 Take Alvina for example. She used to be an avid hand-cyclist and represented Singapore at the Asian Para Games. Once, she even hand-cycled 100 kilometres to raise funds for children with chronic or terminal illnesses. However, a shoulder injury meant she had to take a break from hand-cycling. Undeterred and driven by her passion for sports, she picked up shooting, and brought pride to the nation by clinching a Bronze medal in the air pistol event at the ASEAN Para Games here in Singapore. I understand she is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at SIM University, and I am sure she will continue to inspire many others with her nerves of steel and heart of gold.
6 Another award winner today, Ritchie was also a medallist in shooting at the APG last December. Like Alvina, he was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, but that did not stop him from taking up sports like swimming and shooting. Having picked up air rifle shooting only in 2014, he trained hard and gave his all at the Games to pick up a silver medal, losing narrowly in the finals to his Thai opponent, an experienced Paralympian. Ritchie’s sporting career is certainly looking bright, and at just 16 years old, I’m sure we can all expect to see more of him, especially at the podium.
7 Another young recipient is 14-year-old Kok Yew, who is an arm amputee and also a passionate dancer, K-Pop in particular. His passion for dance is clear from the fluidity of his dance moves. He recently performed at the SPD Charity Show 2015, and hopes to continue spreading the joy of dancing, especially to other persons with disabilities. Last but not least, we have Edgar, who suffered a spinal cord injury that affected his mobility. Undeterred, Edgar now gets around with a wheelchair, and even helps others with disability too, such as volunteering at his school’s Mentoring Club. It’s so wonderful how he wants to continue finding new ways to improve the lives of other youths and persons with disabilities.
8 They will share more about their journeys later, and I believe we will all be inspired by the resilience, generosity and spirit of kindness of Alvina, Ritchie, Kok Yew and Edgar.
Acknowledging Sponsors and Supporters
9 As we celebrate their achievements, I would also like to acknowledge those who have supported them throughout their journey. This includes their parents, teachers and friends, who have undoubtedly played an important role in their successes.
10 I would like to also acknowledge NatSteel Holdings, which has been sponsoring SPD’s bursary awards since 2009, as well as other existing corporate partners, sponsors and donors for their contributions to SPD and the disability sector. I hope you will continue to support SPD, and I urge other companies and organisations to similarly step forward and contribute towards this worthy cause.
Building an Inclusive and Endearing Home
11 We believe that all Singaporeans, of all abilities, should be given equal opportunities to lead fulfilled and engaged lives. The Government is committed to achieving this vision. For instance, the Government’s Enabling Masterplan provides the national roadmap of policies, programmes and services to support the needs of persons with disabilities so that they can reach their full potential. Last month, the Enabling Village was launched to provide an integrated community space for persons with different abilities, and offers a range of amenities and services including job training and employment support.
12 Our Disability Sports Masterplan will ensure a more inclusive sporting Singapore, where everyone, regardless of ability, can take part and even excel in sport. The ASEAN Para Games last December was certainly a boost towards encouraging more persons with disabilities to take up and enjoy the benefits of sport.
13 Similarly, the arts is a wonderful platform to reach out to the community. The ArtReach initiative by the National Arts Council, for instance, supports projects by artists and VWOs that harness the arts to improve the well-being of persons with disabilities and other underprivileged groups. These are all important steps to ultimately make Singapore an endearing home for everyone.
14 Congratulations once again to all award winners. I urge you to continue working hard, to never give up, and to follow your dreams.
15 Thank you.