On 2 September 2018, a crowd of more than 1,000 people turned up to support the SPD Ability Walk. Besides helping to promote inclusivity by raising public awareness of people with disabilities, the annual event aims at raising funds that would go towards providing programmes and services at SPD to aid and benefit people with disabilities. More than $160,000 was raised this year.
The Asian Civilisations Museum was the start and end point of the walk. Participants got the opportunity to stroll along the historic Singapore River. Older participants had a chance to see how the area has changed. The Singapore River used to be a bustling place filled with trade activities and the waters were remembered to be extremely dirty. These days, the banks along the river are vibrant with eateries, bars, hotels, shopping centres and office buildings, making the Singapore River a tourist attraction.
“It has been 30 years since I’ve been here and I thoroughly enjoyed myself seeing how beautiful this place has become,” said Madam Mariam Binte Ibrahim, a stroke survivor from the SPD Sheltered Workshop, who was also a walk participant.
Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth was the Guest-of-Honor, helping to flag off the walk. The rainfall that occurred during the event did nothing to dampen the spirits of the participants.
Besides holding the event at a new location, efforts were put into introducing experiential activities. Making its return was the three-legged challenge where participants walked in pairs for a short distance, having one leg tied to that of a partner.
New activities along the way included a wheelchair obstacle course. The post-event carnival also featured experiential sports activities like wheelchair basketball and wheelchair archery. People of all ages, with and without disabilities, were seen trying them out and having fun.
“I loved this year’s walk! I have been supporting and participating in SPD’s ability walks for three years now. For me, this was the best one yet, although it rained. I think this event has to carry on because it allows people to be aware of those with disabilities and allows us a chance to come together as one,” said Ms Olga Myszczyszyn, a participant of the walk.
As part of the post-walk programme, SPD’s clients from the Day Activity Centre (DAC) performed songs to huge applause from the crowd. Mr Josiah Ong, a scholar, also put up a rendition of “So Small” by Carrie Underwood. When asked of his motivations for volunteering to sing at the event, Josiah simply said: “I just want to find my own ways to give back.”
We are thankful for all the support we have received for the walk. Special thanks go to all our sponsors especially TechnipFMC, Jurong Port and Phillips 66 who have been faithfully supporting the walk for the past three years. We also thank all our food and drinks sponsors such as Old Chang Kee, 40 Hands and Grand Copthorne Hotel, as well as the participants and volunteers who helped to make this event one to remember.
“We came to volunteer for this because we want to help make the experience all the more enjoyable,” said Mr Ranjith Kumar, a volunteer from TechnipFMC.
We believe that through these events, more and more people will be exposed to people with disabilities, developing empathy and understanding for them with each experience.
“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 helping to grow the SG Cares movement, making Singapore a more caring and inclusive society,” said Ms Sim Ann.
Sharing her sentiments, Mr Winston Ngan, vice-president of SPD, said: “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.”