Media Release for SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony 2010
27 Jan 2010
New award aims to groom talents among physically disabled youths
- SPD to present awards and other aid amounting up to S$163,650 to help 157 students with disabilities and students with disabled parent
- New award exclusive to youths with physical disabilities established to help groom talents
27 January 2010, Singapore – Professional talents with physical disabilities may be uncommon in Singapore now but the establishment of a new award may change that.
The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) is offering the SPD Youth Aspiration Award for the first time this year and aims to inspire talented youths with physical disabilities to pursue their interests outside of the academic arena.
The only one of its kind that is exclusive to youths with physical disabilities, the award provides a grant of up to $5,000 per recipient to be used in the year to develop a talent, and covers such expenses as training sessions and equipment purchase.
The award is offered to those studying in secondary 1 to university levels who wish to further their interests/talents in visual and performing arts, sports and community service. It is also open to those looking for funds to perform community service or projects. Two awards will be given out each year to Singapore citizens or permanent residents who demonstrate a strong interest and existing involvement in their areas of interest.
The need for such an award was first mooted in 2008 when SPD recognised the need to develop role models among children and youth with disabilities. Not wanting to restrict the search to the academic area, SPD explored the creation of an award to support outstanding youths with physical disabilities to help them develop and realise their potential in areas outside of academic studies. The SPD Youth Aspiration Award took shape over the following year.
The inaugural award’s winners impressed the judges with their drive and passion. With the award, Jason Oh Boon Keng is one step closer to realising his dream of being a composer. The 19-year-old diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy opted to study in Ngee Ann Polytechnic despite scoring eight points for his GCE ‘O’ Levels which is certain to secure him a place in a junior college.
“I know my condition. I chose the polytechnic route as it is shorter and allows me more time to give back to society,” he said. “I aim to ultimately be able to publish my own solo album consisting of songs I compose. Through my songs, I hope to inspire people to dream big and go far in life despite their disabilities.”
The other winner of the award this year is 17-year-old Gopinath s/o Subash, whose ambition is to be a singer. No stranger to public performances, Gopinath plans to use the grant to enrol in a professional vocal training class.
The award will be presented at the annual SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony by Guest-of-Honour Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Education. The event, to be held at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on 30 January 2010, will also see S$108,850 in bursary awards presented to 155 students with disabilities and students whose parents are disabled. The NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Award is made possible through the sponsorship of NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd with support from Credit Suisse AG.
The SPD Education Programme was started in 1985 to help level the playing field for students with disabilities while they pursued their academic studies. Having simply offered education bursary awards in the earlier years to alleviate financial constraints, it has evolved over time to meet other needs of the students with disabilities by offering a more holistic support that would help in their development. This includes counseling, tuition support, enrichment courses and even collaboration with schools to ensure all-round care for individual students with physical disabilities.
This year, on top of the bursary award, 131 of the recipients will also be receiving the SPD Service Card bearing an additional S$300 each which can be used for enrolment in programmes and services at SPD such as therapy, enrichment classes and IT training. The additional help ensures that these students/parents with disabilities will not be deprived of essential services to help them maximise their potential.
At the same event, a scholarship award will also be presented to the last remaining Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation-SPD Scholar. Twenty-two-year-old Pearl Lee is studying in NTU’s School of Business and is expected to graduate in May this year.
“NatSteel is pleased to collaborate with SPD to support the education of these youths for the third year. We hope that our contribution, be it monetary or volunteerism, will go a long way in helping them reach their maximum potential. We aim to make this presentation ceremony a memorable one for them as some 30 volunteers and their families will be there to show their support,” Mr T V Narendran, President & CEO of NatSteel Holdings.
“There are many children with disabilities who can accomplish much despite their disabilities. We help them to realise their potentials and hope that with the new SPD Youth Aspiration Award, we can help youths with disabilities focus on and develop non-academic areas which they may excel in, and eventually give of their best in society,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD and Chairperson of the SPD Education Programme Award Committee.