Sports Day organised for leprosy patients in Singapore

Clients at the Singapore Leprosy Relief Association (SILRA) home participate in a Sports Day organised by the Singapore Disability Sports Council on March 8, 2017.
Clients at the Singapore Leprosy Relief Association (SILRA) home participate in a Sports Day organised by the Singapore Disability Sports Council on March 8, 2017.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - For more than an hour on Wednesday (March 8) afternoon, athletes squared off against competitors in sports such as shooting, bowling and boccia, the game where participants launch balls on ramps to land as close to a white target ball as possible.

However, this was not the Olympics or any national sports meet.

It was a Sports Day organised by the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) with the Singapore Leprosy Relief Association (SILRA) Home, and the athletes were residents of SILRA Home.

The event was part of the SDSC's efforts to introduce individuals affected by disabilities to modified sports, where participants use the same motor skills as other athletes, and integrate them back into the community by interacting with SDSC volunteers.

Using foam pins and a small basketball, residents of SILRA Home scored strikes and spares in the bowling event, while firing bull's eye shots using Nerf guns for the modified shooting event.

"I am very happy to play these sports. Having the volunteers over also makes staying in the home more enjoyable, rather than watch TV or idling," said Madam Yit Ah Keng, who has been staying at the SILRA Home since 1991.

Besides working with relief homes, the SDSC has also stepped up its efforts to raise awareness of disabilities in schools.

A spokesman for the SDSC told reporters that in financial year 2013/14, the SDSC organised four talks and three tryouts - where students try their hand at modified sports like wheelchair basketball to empathise with the disabled - in Ministry of Education schools.

For financial year 2015/16, the numbers rose to 24 talks and 12 tryouts.

Mr Francis Tan, executive officer of SILRA Home, was full of praise for all the participants at SILRA Home, who were rewarded with goodie bags.

He said: "At the end of the day, everyone here is a winner."