Youth with Profound Hearing Loss Gets Support in Developing Talent in Drumming

SINGAPORE, 14 January 2017 – More than 30 years after the SPD Education Programme (EP) was launched to support students with physical disabilities from low-income families in mainstream schools, it now extends its support to students with sensory disabilities in similar underprivileged situations.
13-year-old Anastasia Mary Chieng is one such student who has benefited from the expansion of the programme. A rare heart defect which required an open heart surgery just six days into her birth and profound hearing loss in the right ear did little to limit Anastasia from pursuing her dreams. She picked up music at four and is now an expert at one of the most physically demanding of all musical instruments – the drums – even performing regularly at various events. Anastasia and three other youths with disabilities were recognised for their passions this morning as they received the SPD Youth Aspiration Award (YAA) from Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Communications and Information, at the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony held at the Holiday Inn Atrium.
Administered by SPD, an organisation that supports persons with disabilities, and sponsored by NatSteel Holdings, the SPD Youth Aspiration Award provides a $5,000 grant that allows youths with disabilities to develop their interests and talents in the areas of visual and performing arts, sports and community service.
The expansion of the EP criteria also benefited two others with hearing impairments – 20-year-old Muhammad Ariff bin Mohd Ilyas, who was inspired by his father, a former national sprinter, to become a track and field athlete, and 23-year-old dragon boat paddler Then An Zhi. The fourth recipient, Chew Chee Siang, 17, who has a congenital disorder in his left hand, look to organising more community projects that benefit the less privileged.
In addition to the aspiration awards, bursaries totalling $95,400 were also given out to 95 students with disabilities from low-income families at the ceremony this year, also with the sponsorship of NatSteel Holdings.
Jagdish Singh, 16, is no stranger to the bursary awards. He will be receiving the bursary for the seventh consecutive time this year. The bursary programme has opened up new opportunities for him over the years and helping him to work towards realising his dreams. “I hope to become a software engineer in the future. It’ll be cool to design Playstation games. This way, others can come together and have fun, instead of leading a mundane life”, Jagdish expressed when asked about his future plans.
“Education is the way forward to strengthening the foundations for our youth, and NatSteel is honoured to be able to contribute by sponsoring the SPD Education Programme Bursary Award for the ninth year running, and the SPD Youth Aspiration Award since 2014. It is our privilege to partner with SPD in making a strong and sustained contribution to the community,” said Mr Ashish Anupam, President and Chief Executive Officer of NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd.
“In alignment with SPD’s direction to serve the wider community of persons with disabilities, we have expanded the bursary and YAA criteria to beyond children with physical disabilities. We hope that not only would the financial assistance be of help to these students and their families, but also the case management services and learning and development component would address any unmet psychosocial needs in the mainstream education system and enable them to integrate better socially,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD, on the improvements to the bursary disbursement. “I take this opportunity to also express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to NatSteel for the unwavering partnership with SPD in the last decade. It has paved the way for students with disabilities to shine in the educational setting.”
Since 1985, more than 3,800 bursaries amounting to about $3.2 million have been awarded to students from primary to tertiary levels including those at ITE, pre-universities, junior colleges, polytechnics and universities, to help alleviate some of their financial hardships.
The SPD Education Programme was started in 1985 to help students with disabilities from low-income families cope with expenses related to the students’ studies in mainstream schools. It has since evolved to meet other needs of the students by offering a more holistic support which includes counselling, tuition support, enrichment courses and even collaboration with schools, to ensure all-round care for the students.