Collective effort can help the disabled lead dignified lives

MSF Minister Tan Chuan-Jin (left, holding the banner) at the launch of a disability awareness campaign organised by NCSS and the Tote Board at Enabling Village on June 2.
MSF Minister Tan Chuan-Jin (left, holding the banner) at the launch of a disability awareness campaign organised by NCSS and the Tote Board at Enabling Village on June 2. PHOTO: NCSS

We thank The Straits Times for two insightful commentaries ("The hard - and heart - part of inclusiveness for the disabled"; June 9, and "Let's get off the 'euphemism treadmill'"; last Friday).

We are very heartened that the recent launch of the Disability Awareness Campaign has generated conversations both online and in print.

These will go a long way to help all of us take time to reflect more deeply and more meaningfully on how we can embrace and include people with disabilities in Singapore.

Developed from insights and research findings gathered from 3,500 people with disabilities and the general public, the See The True Me campaign aims to shift public mindsets to not just focus on the disability that a person may have, but also all other aspects of his life.

Through our campaign video and collateral, our ambassadors highlight their interests, aspirations and abilities and also indicate that they have a condition. Ms Selina Gomez, mother of Ivan Gomez who has autism, summed it up eloquently when she said "autism is what my son has, not who he is".

The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) will continue to embark on projects and initiatives to promote inclusion in the community. The inclusive playgrounds in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Ghim Moh and the complementary Children in Action programme are examples of such initiatives.

Another effort is Buddy'IN, a programme aimed at socially integrating graduating students from special education schools with their peers from institutes of higher learning, through semi-structured social activities and sessions.

Students with special needs form peer support networks and learn age-appropriate behaviours while their peers gain awareness and understanding of people with disabilities.

Our upcoming Community Chest Heartstrings Walk 2016, to be held on July 31, seeks to get more people to participate alongside those with disabilities and others helped by the various charities, for more social interaction.

The Disabled People's Association and the SPD will also be holding free disability awareness talks in July and August, in collaboration with our campaign. Details may be found at http://seethetrueme.sg/involve/

We encourage the public to participate in these activities to gain greater knowledge and to interact with people with disabilities.

NCSS will continue to collaborate with social service organisations, people with disabilities, caregivers, community partners and the Government to enable and ensure every person with disability lives a dignified life. Together, we can collectively make a difference.

Sim Gim Guan
Chief Executive Officer
National Council of Social Service

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'Collective effort can help the disabled lead dignified lives'. Print Edition | Subscribe