Students with Disabilities Get Help by Way of Bursaries and Award

15 February 2012, Singapore – The financial worries of 9-year-old Lim Cheong Leng’s parents is set to lessen once she receives her NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Award.

Born premature, the Primary 2 student of Evergreen Primary School has been diagnosed with facial palsy and global developmental delay which affects her fine motor skills, speech, swallowing ability, balance, and consequently her self-confidence.

Medical care for Cheong Leng is expensive. She is dependent on her mother for almost all her activities of daily living. The family survives on her father’s salary as a delivery man, a struggle resulting in mounting bills to pay for.

Cheong Leng works hard every day to manage and overcome the increasing academic and social challenges. This is the first time she is receiving the bursary, which the family came to know about through her school teacher.

Grateful for the help, Cheong Leng’s mother, Mdm Seah Lay Eng, said: “I didn’t study very much so I can’t help Cheong Leng in her school work. The bursary and tuition SPD is giving her will be very helpful for us.”

Cheong Leng, along with 121 other students with disabilities and students whose parents are disabled, will be receiving bursary awards amounting to a total of $85,000 at the annual SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony held on 18 February 2012 at the SPD Ability Centre. Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education and Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, will be the Guest-of-Honour.

The NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Award is made possible through the sponsorship of NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd.

Started in 1985, the SPD Education Programme helps to level the playing field for students with disabilities, and students whose parents are disabled, while they pursue their academic studies. Having simply offered the education bursary award 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 counselling, tuition support, enrichment courses and even collaboration with schools to ensure all-round care for individual students with physical disabilities.

“NatSteel is committed to doing our part for the society, and the NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Award is an extension of this belief. We are happy to partner SPD for the fourth time in this worthy cause. In these uncertain times, we hope that the bursaries can help alleviate the financial burdens of families and allow students to concentrate on achieving academic excellence,” said Mr Vivek Kamra, CEO of NatSteel.

“The importance of education can never be over emphasized. It is through education that lives are improved, not only for the students but for their families and future generations to come. Through education, persons with disabilities can be enabled to transcend their limitations and contribute to the larger community of which we are all a part. We hope to see all children with disabilities enjoy equal opportunity in school so that they can be self-motivated and driven, and work towards a better future for all,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD and Chairperson of the SPD Education Programme Award Committee.

Also being offered for the third year running is the SPD Youth Aspiration Award. The award is the only one of its kind that is aimed at inspiring talented youths with physical disabilities to pursue their interests outside of the academic arena. 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 or talents in visual and performing arts, sports or community service. It is also open to those looking for funds to perform community service or projects.

For 23-year-old national badminton player Tay Wei Ming, the sole winner of the award this year, the grant would go towards training, purchase of training equipment and supplements and even physiotherapy support. Wei Ming acquired Erb’s Palsy at birth which affected the development of his right arm. Despite his condition, Wei Ming has excelled in badminton and has represented Singapore in international events in Japan, Germany and most recently at the ASEAN Para Games in 2011. He is now training for the next ASEAN Para Games which will take place in 2013.

Thankful for the grant, the young athlete said, “With proper gear and supplements, I can train better and concentrate on improving my techniques and stamina. I want to win more medals for Singapore.”