Special needs students from Girls' Brigade deliver gifts to low-income families

Nazurah Zulaikha Zaki (left) and Jessie Lee Jia Yu loading the gifts onto buses to make their deliveries, on May 26, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Nazurah Zulaikha Zaki, 14, spent her Thursday (May 26) afternoon delivering gifts to families in Teck Whye.

It is a change for her because as a student of Grace Orchard School, which is for students with mild intellectual disabilities or autism, she is often seen as a recipient for help.

But this year's Girls' Brigade Singapore project to deliver gifts to 3,000 families involved persons with disabilities (PWDs), not just as recipients, but also as givers.

A total of 16 students from Grace Orchard School's Girls' Brigade co-curricular activity (CCA) went door to door to deliver gifts, alongside 24 Girls' Brigade members from Kent Ridge Secondary School on Thursday.

The launch, held at Grace Orchard School, kick-started the nearly two month-long project, called Friend in Deed, which will provide gifts to about 300 PWDs islandwide, among the 3,000 beneficiaries.

Residents can ask for items within a $60 budget. These can be for home use, such as toaster ovens and standing fans, health and wellness items like blood pressure monitors, and school supplies or toys for children.

Semiconductor equipment company Applied Materials - the project's sponsor this year - sponsored the first $15,000 worth of gifts. Members of the public can contribute the remaining gifts on the wishlist at this website.

President Halimah Yacob, who flagged off a fleet of mini-buses taking the students to make the deliveries, said: "I am glad to see girls from different walks of life being empowered to perform great acts of service.

"I hope this will inspire fellow Singaporeans to do the same, and that the wishes delivered throughout Singapore will bring much joy to every recipient."

Glynnis Neo, a Secondary 2 student from Kent Ridge Secondary School, who delivered gifts with a schoolmate and two students from Grace Orchard School, said her group bonded over an interaction session. 

"We made bracelets together and got more comfortable with one another. We got to know about how they go about their day, their CCA, what activities they do."

Glynnis, who was interacting with special needs students for the first time, said: "I learnt that they're not that different from us; we shouldn't exclude or judge them. They're very nice, and we can talk to them and inspire one another."

Ms Siow Wei Qi, a teacher who oversees the Girls' Brigade at Grace Orchard School, said: "The students are used to receiving, but now they have the chance to give. They get joy from it. It is a meaningful opportunity to learn."

President Halimah Yacob presenting gifts to the families on May 26, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Kapilaadev Thigaraji, a Sec 2 student in Grace Orchard School's soccer club, was happy to get soccer boots and socks as part of the project. So far, he has been playing soccer in his school shoes.

His family also received an air purifier they had requested.

Ms Esther Kwan, principal of Grace Orchard School, said: "Everyone has the ability to give, whether it's money, time, a kind word, or even just a smile."

"I hope that through this project, our students will be able to make a difference in people's lives and grow in the joy of giving."

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