Chairs painted by special needs kids fetch nearly $50,000

Rainbow Centre students Daniel Isaac (left) and Noah Tan with their chairs at Ion Orchard on Dec 8, 2016.
Rainbow Centre students Daniel Isaac (left) and Noah Tan with their chairs at Ion Orchard on Dec 8, 2016.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Rainbow Centre student Daniel Isaac with Madam Ho Ching, adding final touches to the chair he worked on.
Rainbow Centre student Daniel Isaac with Madam Ho Ching, adding final touches to the chair he worked on.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Rainbow Centre student Daniel Isaac with Madam Ho Ching, adding final touches to the chair he worked on.
Rainbow Centre student Daniel Isaac with Madam Ho Ching, adding final touches to the chair he worked on.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Two chairs painted by youth with special needs were auctioned for a total of nearly $50,000 on Thursday (Dec 8).

Donors took a seat for charity at ION Orchard, where 55 child-sized Louis-style chairs decorated by students from the Rainbow Centre in collaboration with artists are on display on a rotational basis.

All chairs are available for purchase at pledges of $8,000 and up, and proceeds will go to Rainbow Centre, a voluntary welfare organisation that serves about 1,200 students at its two special needs schools in Margaret Drive and Yishun Park.

Two chairs painted solely by Rainbow Centre students Noah Tan and Danial Isaac were put up for a silent auction on Thursday, with a starting bid of $20,000 each.

The Rainbow Chairity initiative aims to raise $600,000 for a new wing at the centre's Margaret Drive campus, which will house 13 classrooms for 300 additional students.

The wing will also contain a student care centre and training academy for social service professionals, parents, caregivers and volunteers.

The 8,300 sq m wing, co-funded by the Government, is due to be completed in the second half of 2017 at an estimated cost of $17 million. The Rainbow Centre has raised more than $5.5 million of the remaining $6.5 million needed.

Noah, 15, who has mild to moderate autism, painted a version of a portrait that previously won special mention at the 2014 Singapore Youth Festival art exhibition.

His chair, titled The Face & I, features his favourite colours and shapes, said his mother Rosyniah Wang, 49.

"It took a month to complete, and he put in a lot of effort - he would wake up in the morning at 8, break for meals and then work until evening time," said Madam Wang, a housewife.

Danial, 16, who has cerebral palsy, took two months to complete his chair titled Heart of Freedom, which he said represents his challenging journey as well as his mother's support.

"It's about how my family takes care of me and teaches me about life," he said.

At the auction on Thursday evening, Temasek Holdings chief executive Ho Ching helped the two students to put the finishing touches on their chairs.

Noting that the new wing would allow the centre to cater to more students, including early intervention cases for pre-school children aged 6 and under, Ms Ho said: "I do hope you will support generously to give each of these chairs a loving home, because behind those chairs are people with a heart, artists with a heart and children with dreams and hopes."

The chairs will be on display at ION Orchard level 3 until Dec 15. Donations and chair pledges can be made at www.rainbowchairity.sg.