Charity event paints brighter future for children with dyslexia, raising $371k

(From left) Marie Huang, Matilda Huang Yu Jing, Jimmy Khoo Eng Chew. Mr Khoo (right) bought the painting during the auction for $1,200 from the artists, Matilda and her mother Mrs Huang. PHOTO: DYSLEXIA ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Thirteen-year-old Matilda Huang turned to art to express how she is coming to terms with dyslexia.

Her recent painting, which she called 'Our learning journey, our discovery' shows two humans forming a heart shape around a flower with their hands.

"The painting is about the transition (from) being messy in the beginning until seeing the full picture," said the student, whose artwork sold for $1,200 at an auction held by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) on Wednesday (May 23). "After learning about dyslexia and being in DAS, everything became clearer and maybe easier."

The DAS raised a total of $371,000 from corporate sponsors and individuals at its inaugural charity golf and dinner event on Wednesday (May 23).

Three other items - a wine set, flights to Japan and a glass artwork - were also sold at the auction.

The proceeds will help dyslexic children from lower-income families access educational support.

The DAS estimates that 23,000 preschool to secondary school students in Singapore have dyslexia severe enough to warrant intervention.

The learning difficulty primarily impairs reading and spelling skills.

The DAS' main literacy programme supports students in English and is partly funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) which provides subsidies for lower-income families.

Programmes in other subjects like mathematics, however, rely on sponsorship and donations. The increasing awareness and demand for DAS' services prompted the need to strengthen fundraising efforts.

Nine-year-old Musa Najib has taken part in the subsidised DAS programmes for about five years. "(The programme has helped) by letting me recognise the words more," said the youngster, who scored 86.5 out of 100 in his English exam. "When I look at the word I know how to make the sound."

Chief executive officer of the DAS Mr Lee Siang said the organisation aims to help families "access the programmes that they need in order to level their playing field, and therefore reduce the inequality that comes through different access to education".

Matilda's mother, Mrs Marie Huang, 46, said: "Just like how nurses come in to preschools giving free eye checks, they should have assessments for dyslexia as well. If they are diagnosed early and remediation can start early, this could really help them in their learning journey."

Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung was the guest of honour at the event, held at Tanah Merah Country Club.

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