The Amazing Wheelchair Race – Speech by Mr See Cher

1. Welcome to the prize presentation ceremony for The Amazing Wheelchair Race. The event is possible only with the support of many organisations – public institutions, transport companies and private companies. We take this opportunity to thank you for your kind support, which has greatly contributed to the success of this event.

2. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had, in September 2004, made a call for Singapore to be an inclusive society. In June this year, we saw the first wheelchair accessible bus rolling onto Singapore roads. We have made headway in the area of transport accessibility, in our buses and train systems. We can go even further by asking ourselves what more can be done, to review what within our current facilities can help to make Singapore truly inclusive.

3. As part of our effort to promote universal accessibility and an inclusive society, SPD collaborated with NTU’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Club to organise a race for non-disabled students. We were hoping to increase the understanding of the participants for disabled people and the accessibility issues they face, by letting them step into their shoes for a day.

4. There are many challenges a wheelchair user faces when he steps out of the confines of his home into the outside world. How accessible their environment is determines how independent they can be in their daily activities, from going to school or work, to buying their own meals, to even accessing the toilets.

5. We designed the challenges and obstacles in the game to simulate real-life situations where possible, to enhance participants’ understanding of what a disabled person faces, hopefully provoking deeper empathy, grace and compassion towards wheelchair users.

6. Challenges included shopping at a supermarket, visiting the library, approaching members of the public, purchasing and consuming meals at a food outlet, among other tasks. All these aimed at providing a glimpse into the life of a person with physical disabilities. Additionally, participants went through an assistive technology challenge which allowed them to experience how empowering assistive technology can be for disabled people when used correctly.

7. The issue of integration begins with an accessible environment, but more than that, it is an issue of the heart. Real integration happens when people are not just aware of the difficulties that people with physical disabilities face, but when they accept them and include them wholeheartedly into the community, regardless of the inconveniences they may pose at times.

8. We hope that participants today have learnt much, and will bring back their experiences to share with their friends and family. With this, we hope to move one step closer towards being an even more inclusive society that actively integrates disabled persons to be a part of, not apart from the community.

9. Once again, we would like to thank our partners and supporters for their assistance. Thanks to Associate Prof Leong Kai Choong for taking time off to be here. Many thanks to the MAE Club members of NTU and the Leadership Development Programme members, who have spent many hours organising and planning the event, and have put in so much to make this event possible. We appreciate it. Last but not least, we’d like to thank the volunteers for their hard work and heart of service. Your time and effort is greatly appreciated.

I wish everyone a pleasant week ahead.