Disabled people lauded for resilience in upgrading skills

Mr Terence Lew and Ms Alvina Neo were among the people with disabilities who received the new SkillsFuture Study Awards yesterday.
Mr Terence Lew and Ms Alvina Neo were among the people with disabilities who received the new SkillsFuture Study Awards yesterday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

In the day, Ms Alvina Neo, 27, works part-time as a laboratory officer. At night, she pursues a social work degree at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, or goes for training in air pistol shooting.

Despite having spina bifida - a congenital condition resulting in incomplete development of the spinal cord - and having to make frequent hospital visits after dislocating her left shoulder in 2014, the para-athlete has pressed on to pursue her ambition of being a social worker to help children with special needs. Her degree course started in 2012 and she hopes to complete it by this year.

Ms Neo said: "I hope to be different from other social workers because I've been in the shoes of a client. I've had a disability since birth, and I've had a lot of challenges in life. So I understand where (children with special needs) are coming from and hope I can further advocate for them."

She was recognised yesterday for her resilience to upgrade her skills, as one of the first 24 recipients of the new SkillsFuture Study Awards for people with disabilities, as well as the job coaches and professionals who support them. The awards are worth $5,000 each.

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The two award categories - for people with disabilities and for disability employment professionals - were launched in September last year, and are part of the national SkillsFuture movement that encourages people to upgrade their skills.

The first category recognises people with disabilities who show perseverance to upskill and develop themselves; 22 people received this award.

The second category recognises professionals who play a pivotal role in supporting people with disabilities get and sustain their jobs; two people received this award.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin presented the awards at a ceremony at the Enabling Village in Redhill.

Ms Ku Geok Boon, chief executive of SG Enable, a government-established agency that helps people with disabilities, said: "I am heartened to see the commitment to upskilling demonstrated by the (award winners). I hope more people will... join us in this journey of lifelong learning."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Disabled people lauded for resilience in upgrading skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe