23 young people with special needs honoured for their grit and perseverance

(From left) Noor Iskandaria Mohd Dena, guest of honour Associate Professor Muhammad Faisal Ibrahim and Pranav C. Balu after the awards ceremony at the Lifelong Learning Institute on Feb 24, 2018.
(From left) Noor Iskandaria Mohd Dena, guest of honour Associate Professor Muhammad Faisal Ibrahim and Pranav C. Balu after the awards ceremony at the Lifelong Learning Institute on Feb 24, 2018.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Mr Noor Iskandaria thought he had lost all chance of winning after he crashed his bike and punctured a tyre just 2km before the finish line at the Asean Para Games' 24.6km handcycling race last year.

Despite this, the 22-year-old, who suffers from a form of cerebral palsy, refused to give up.

"All I was thinking of was to finish the race," said the PSB Academy student, who picked himself up to finish the race and clinched third place.

Mr Iskandaria was commended for his pluck and tenacity on Saturday (Feb 24) when he was awarded the Persistent Perseverance Award at a ceremony by the Awwa Community Integration Service (CIS).

He was one of 23 young award recipients who were recognised for their strength in overcoming challenges despite their special needs.

The CIS programme, established in 1991, helps children and youth with disabilities integrate into mainstream schools, tertiary institutions and their communities.

With a team of psychologists, education guidance officers, social workers and counsellors, the programme serves those who have physical disabilities, speech language disorders, global developmental delay, developmental coordination disorder and low vision.

Saturday's ceremony was held at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Eunos and attended by 280 people.

In a speech at the event, the guest of honour, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who is Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social and Family Development, praised the awardees for their resilience.

"You have not backed down nor given up regardless of the challenges ahead of you. We, and the rest of society, can learn from your exemplary display of determination and grit," he said.

He also acknowledged the service and support of the awardees' caregivers and other social service professionals. "Your dedication has empowered them to be independent and demonstrated to society how we can look beyond their disabilities and celebrate their abilities instead," he said.

Several organisations, schools and educators were also given awards for their efforts in the integration and inclusion of students with special needs.

Another award recipient, Institute of Technical Education student Pranav C. Balu, 18, trained hard to earn a spot as a striker in the Singapore National Cerebral Palsy Football Team despite having cerebral palsy in his right arm and leg.

He said: "If you want to achieve something, you need to put aside personal issues and excuses that stem from your physical limitations... and work hard for what you want to achieve."