This week, students in Singapore celebrated Youth Day which fell on Sunday, 1 July. It is often a day when we rejoice in the dreams, passions and talents of youths everywhere.
We caught up with Lin Hetao, a 19-year-old who was diagnosed with epilepsy and hemiparesis, a condition which weakens an entire side of his body. In this short interview, Hetao shares his thoughts on what Youth Day means to him.
What does Youth Day mean to you?
Hetao (HT): I think it is a day dedicated to all youths, with or without disabilities. It is also a day that reminds us youths to treasure the moments, to be bold and ready to explore and be active in our lives.
What do you think are the benefits of being a youth?
HT: It’s great! Youths are generally more unafraid to explore and try new things. Being a youth means that we can take more risks. It’s often easier for us to be able to bounce back when we are young compared to being an adult.
How do you normally celebrate Youth Day?
HT: This year is a little different for me. I have just started my studies at the polytechnic which means Youth Day is no longer a holiday for me! I think most of the time, Youth Day is a day for me to rest and enjoy the time with my family and friends.
How do you cope with being a youth with disabilities?
HT: It is very normal for us to face challenges and trials. I don’t think it is any different for people without disabilities – they face challenges too! I think the biggest support that helps me to cope is my family. When I feel dejected, frustrated or down, they will always be around to encourage and lift me up. Thus, family support is an important factor.
What is one encouragement that you would like to give youths with disabilities?
HT: We cannot change how we are, but we can make the best out of our abilities. Let’s ask ourselves, “What am I actually good at? How can I then contribute through the gift that I have?” When we change a perspective, we are able to overcome our setbacks. Let’s be a group of people who are not always harping about what we do not have, but embrace what we possess.