Taking another step towards building a more inclusive Singapore, Temasek Foundation Cares and SportCares will be piloting the ‘Temasek Foundation Cares Play-Ability’ programme, which aims to increase support for persons with disabilities (PWD) to participate in recreational sport activities.
President Halimah Yacob (centre), joined by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu (first from left), and Team Singapore athlete Jason Chee (second from left). launched the Temasek Foundation Cares Play-Ability programme. Photo: Sport Singapore
President Halimah Yacob, joined by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu, launched the programme on Saturday at Heartbeat@Bedok, where more than a hundred persons with disabilities (PWD) participated in activities ranging from badminton, basketball, wheelchair rugby, and futsal.
In partnership with Special Education (SPED) schools and Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWO), Play-ability will also receive monetary support amounting to $615,000 over the next three years from Temasek Foundation Cares.
Temasek Foundation Cares chairman, Richard Magnus, said: “We partnered with SportCares [because they’ve] already got a wide framework in play, and so we’re leveraging on that to be able to bring about this programme.”
“This particular programme [seeks to] address the very obstacles and daily impediments [that stop] PWDs from participating in sports. It’s also a community-based programme, [which] means we also want people with abilities to be able to interact and bond with our PWDs,” he continued.
SportSG CEO, Lim Teck Yin, concurred: “Sport is a common language that breaks down barriers. Many people are apprehensive when interacting with persons with disabilities, and we want to leverage on sport as the bridge to develop normalcy in their interactions as well as making it commonplace where people of all abilities can play together.”
Indeed, the experience proved to be as valuable to the participants, as they were to some of the able-bodied volunteers. Celine Tng, a volunteer in the badminton programme, shared: “[We need] the empathy to actually put yourselves in their shoes and learn how to interact and engage them at their pace, not your pace.”
Team Nila volunteer Celine Tng. Photo: Sport Singapore
“It’s an experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else, [and] it’s very humbling,” expressed the Team Nila volunteer.
Lim added: “[We have observed] that the volunteers who step forward to help us run these programmes are enriched through the experience. Many of them have come without the previous experience of interacting with PWDs, and they’re finding that they are very much like us.”
Participants enjoying a game of table tennis. Photo: Sport Singapore
30 volunteers from Team Nila and ITE College West are currently working closely with experienced coaches to learn the skills necessary to lead weekly sessions. These inclusive sports programmes will then run over eight to twelve weeks to allow participants to fully gain the benefits of sport participation, and hopefully help more Singaporeans and PWDs realise that “they [PWDs] are capable” of picking up and excelling in sports, as Keith Contreras, a nursing aid from Thye Hua Kwan Home for the Disabled, put it.
Want to find out how you can be a part of this inclusive sports initiative? Interested organisations or volunteers can head to www.sportcares.sg or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the ‘Temasek Foundation Cares Play-Ability’ programme.