National Day ceremonies

A celebration of inclusiveness

Members of the public and the Hua Yuan association take part in a mass community walk as part of National Day celebrations yesterday. This SG51 symbol won Kampong Kembangan Community Club a place in the Singapore Book of Records for the largest forma
This SG51 symbol won Kampong Kembangan Community Club a place in the Singapore Book of Records for the largest formation made up of origami hearts, which took residents a week to fold.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN
Members of the public and the Hua Yuan association take part in a mass community walk as part of National Day celebrations yesterday.
Members of the public and the Hua Yuan association take part in a mass community walk as part of National Day celebrations yesterday. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

People with disabilities join in festivities that include a mini food and music festival, and a para-sports showcase

A constituency's National Day celebrations yesterday sought to demonstrate the inclusive society that Singapore aspires to be - one that actively engages the disabled and the disadvantaged.

About 1,500 residents took part in the Kembangan-Chai Chee National Day Observance Ceremony, which was streamed on Facebook Live.

Among those who turned up at Kampong Kembangan Community Club dressed in red and white to celebrate Singapore's 51st birthday were 150 people with disabilities.

Through this year's event, organisers aimed to increase awareness of people with disabilities, the mentally ill and the disadvantaged.

The observance ceremony, which featured a combined marching contingent formed by students from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) and Ping Yi Secondary School, saw Minds student Abdul Salam Afraar Sajith leading the Pledge.

"I am excited. I practised for one or two days," said the 17-year-old, who is autistic.

Apart from a mass community walk, the celebrations included buskers with disabilities performing alongside youth from the Singapore Children's Society in a mini food and music festival.

There was also a para-sports showcase, letting people try out activities such as wheelchair basketball and blindfold football.

For the first time, 23 voluntary welfare organisations, social enterprises and agencies participated in the festivities, with the food and drinks prepared by their beneficiaries.

The community club also entered the Singapore Book of Records for the largest word formation made up of origami hearts. Residents in neighbourhood and residents' committees spent a week folding the origami hearts to form a huge "SG51", measuring 7.9m by 4.5m.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, an MP for Marine Parade GRC and the guest of honour, told The Straits Times that he was heartened by the emphasis on people with disabilities and the disadvantaged at this year's event.

"Over the years, we have been moving towards a more inclusive society. People recognise that a better Singapore is a more inclusive Singapore," he said.

"It is a work in progress, but just from today, we can see that it really brings smiles not just to their faces, but in their hearts as well," he added.

During the celebrations, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, the anchor minister for Marine Parade GRC, sent a video message from Rio de Janeiro, where he is supporting Singaporean athletes competing in the Olympics.

Mr Tan, who is Minister for Social and Family Development, is the president of the Singapore National Olympic Council.

He said that inviting those with special needs to join the celebrations this year is part of a longer journey to ensure everyone feels they are a part of Singapore society.

"In fact, just reach out to fellow Singaporeans, whether they are able-bodied or have special needs," said Mr Tan.

"As long as you connect with each other, I think that's what makes it meaningful and what makes it home, because it's all about relationships."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline 'A celebration of inclusiveness'. Print Edition | Subscribe