Youths with Disabilities Receive Educational Support and Grants to Pursue Talents

SINGAPORE, 31 January 2015 – He might have been an average student in school but 22-year-old Muhammad Diroy Bin Noordin, who has Dwarfism, always had an eye for designs. For that, he was often asked by his peers and teachers to design event posters and logos in school. Diroy knew then that he wanted to be a graphic designer and studied hard to secure a place in Temasek Polytechnic where he now majors in Graphic Design.

Diroy was one of three recipients who received the SPD Youth Aspiration Award from Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower at, at the SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony 2015 this morning. Tagged with a grant of $5,000, the award sponsored by NatSteel Holdings enables youths with physical disabilities to develop their interests and talents in the areas of visual and performing arts, sports and community service. This is the first time since the inception of the award programme in 2010 that three awards are given out instead of two.

A self-motivated Diroy looks forward to making his mark in the design industry and giving back to society through his talent: “I have been working on software with versions that are not so updated. With this award, I can buy newer software and hardware. I can hone my skills more effectively and be more confident in myself.”

Besides Diroy, 15-year-old Paralympian aspirant Gregory Ong, and 20-year-old music enthusiast Sim Yu Xiang, are the two other recipients of the SPD Youth Aspiration Award this year. Gregory has not allowed the effects of cerebral palsy to stop him from excelling in hand-cycling and he has his sights set on the next Paralympics. Yu Xiang is a National University of Singapore’s sociology undergraduate who, despite being diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy since young, is a passionate singer who does beautiful renditions of popular songs on his YouTube channel. His first video was a birthday song which he sang to his mother. (Refer to Annex for profiles)

The SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Ceremony also saw 73 students with physical disabilities and students with physically disabled parents who are from low-income families receive $35,700 in bursaries. The bursary programme, which is in its 30th year, is a way of helping the students and their families to alleviate some of the financial burdens that they face, such as in the case of Toh Wee Yang and Lee Chee Yong. Both teenagers are supported by families with a sole breadwinner and the bursaries will provide some help with their school expenses.

Grateful for the financial assistance, Wee Yang’s mother, Madam Ong, said: “Any help is definitely welcome. The opportunity to receive this bursary once again is really good news for us and I hope Wee Yang will do well in school so that he can in turn help those in need in future.”

Since 1985, more than 3,500 bursaries amounting to about $3 million have been awarded to students with physical disabilities and students with parents who have physical disabilities. The support is extended to students from primary to tertiary levels including those at ITE, pre-universities, junior colleges, polytechnics and universities.

On the bursary award, Mr Vivek Kamra, President and Chief Executive Officer of NatSteel Holdings Pte Ltd, said: “We are happy to support families with the NatSteel-SPD Education Programme Bursary Award. Education is the way forward to building the foundations for our youth, and we are glad to be able to contribute. The award is an important pillar in SPD’s Education Programme. By alleviating the financial burdens of the families and their children, the programme enables students to focus on achieving academic excellence as they pursue their education in mainstream schools.”

NatSteel Holdings has been contributing to the SPD Education Programme Bursary Award and the SPD Youth Aspiration Award since 2009 and 2014 respectively.

“In its 30th year, the SPD Education Programme’s successful continuation certainly did not happen in a vacuum. It is the strong belief that partners like NatSteel have in our youths that has enabled this programme to go on. Since 2009, NatSteel’s unwavering support has helped countless families lighten their financial burden and our youth to get closer to their academic and aspirational achievements,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD.

The SPD Education Programme was started in 1985 to help students 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 with disabilities by offering a more holistic support, which includes counselling, tuition support, enrichment courses and even collaboration with schools, to ensure all-round care for individual students with physical disabilities.