Mentor youth with disabilities to develop their potential

We congratulate Ms Yip Pin Xiu on being named The Straits Times' Athlete of the Year 2015 ("Champion's spirit in a faltering body" and "Simply amazing, she inspires all"; both published on Feb 27).

Ms Yip has come a long way to achieve what she has today.

She serves as a role model to encourage other young people to strive for excellence despite their disabilities.

Young people with disabilities can play a bigger role in changing society's mindset towards disability.

With opportunities and the necessary support, coupled with hard work and perseverance, young people with disabilities have demonstrated that they can be achievers like their non-disabled peers.

They have the potential to develop and can also form part of our community's talented individuals. When given the chance, they want to and can be contributing members of society.

Mentorship programmes are one possible way to positively shape the growth of young people with disabilities.

Mentors with or without disabilities can provide valuable support to young people with disabilities, by offering them character, academic and career guidance and advice, and help them to develop their interpersonal, problem-solving and leadership skills.

Creating a peer support network is also crucial in helping young people with disabilities connect with other youngsters and expand their circle of influence, so as to allow for the exchange of experiences and information, and the provision of mutual help when needed.

The sharing of success stories of peers with disabilities can also motivate other young people to achieve their own success.

Such programmes and support measures help in nurturing and empowering young people with disabilities to become young leaders and role models, and to actively contribute to developing Singapore into an inclusive society.

Recognising achievements of young people with disabilities creates greater awareness of their abilities.

Doing so also highlights the importance of society in providing them equal opportunities, which would help them develop into confident and self-motivated individuals, and to become future leaders who can ignite change and make a positive impact in society.

Joyce Wong (Ms)

Director (Inclusion Advancement)

SPD (formerly the Society for the Physically Disabled)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2016, with the headline 'Mentor youth with disabilities to develop their potential'. Print Edition | Subscribe