Minds students do their bit for society

Swiss Cottage Secondary School student Amelie Chan Su Ying, 13 (left), and Minds student Amirul Hidyat, 15, with a terrarium that they made for residents of an old folks' home.
Swiss Cottage Secondary School student Amelie Chan Su Ying, 13 (left), and Minds student Amirul Hidyat, 15, with a terrarium that they made for residents of an old folks' home.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Muhd Syafiq Mustapah, 18, attends a school run by the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) and often benefits from the kindness of donors and volunteers.

But last Friday, Syafiq and 42 other students from the Minds Lee Kong Chian Gardens Schools paid it forward by volunteering at an old folks' home. They chatted with the elderly residents and made terrariums, or glass containers containing plant displays, for them.

They also performed for the seniors. One boy even stopped a song performance midway to urge the residents to clap along.

The Minds students were accompanied by 56 students from Swiss Cottage Secondary School, who guided them in making the terrariums and led the songs and dances.

"I like making the terrarium and singing, and the auntie liked the terrarium I made," said Syafiq.

The visit is part of a Minds push to get its students and beneficiaries - from Minds homes, and employment and training centres - to contribute to society, and also to integrate and socialise with able-bodied volunteers through school or corporate pairings.

"We must not forget that persons with intellectual disability are able to empathise, demonstrate love and honour through acts of giving and have the desire to bond with different communities," said Minds chief executive Keh Eng Song.

Swiss Cottage student Dewi Hazelina, 15, said volunteering alongside the Minds children instead of doing things for them changed how she viewed those with disabilities.

"Through this I understand that they can do the things that I do, too. It opens our minds to what people with intellectual disabilities are capable of," she said.

Minds started its volunteering initiatives last month with a visit to Cheshire Home with Shangri-La Hotel Singapore staff.

Next month, Minds will visit Geylang East Home for the Aged with staff from computer hardware firm Dell Global B.V. (Singapore Branch). The volunteering sessions will be a permanent annual feature and will involve students from Minds schools and beneficiaries from all 14 facilities.

Kok Xing Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'Minds students do their bit for society'. Print Edition | Subscribe