People with disabilities and caregivers set loom band record

Beneficiaries of non-profit organisation Bizlink and those who help them set a Singapore record on Monday by making the largest number of rubber band bracelets within an hour.

The making of the 505 red-and-white loom bands, supported by the SG50 Celebration Fund, was part of an event that officially launched Bizlink's day activity centre.

Bizlink chief executive Alvin Lim said including the community of people with disabilities as well as the disadvantaged in the SG50 celebrations is important.

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Bizlink gives employment assistance and training to people with disabilities and special needs. It serves about 800 people, including 250 who are employed under its social enterprises, and 24 others who are trained at the Day Activity Centre, where participants pick up daily living and basic work skills.

Leading up to Monday's event, five students held two workshops for caregivers and beneficiaries to bond while learning to weave loom bands. They conceived this idea at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)-The Straits Times Idea Jam in October last year.

Over three days, Idea Jam participants interviewed non-profit groups that needed help, and researched and refined their ideas.

Workable ideas, such as the one for Bizlink, qualified for funding from the National Youth Council's Young ChangeMakers grant. Three of the original four members who came up with the idea - Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student Chong Hui Xiang, 24, and ITE College West students Lim Zong Rui and Benedik Tan, both 18 - conducted the workshops. They also roped in ITE College West student Ruain Ramos, 19, and NTU student Tan Hui Xian, 21.

Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development and MCCY, who was the guest of honour at Monday's event, said: "This is a powerful way to show how the community and youth can come together to combine their ideas and creative energy with the efforts of the disability sector to empower people with disabilities."

Madam Chew Siew Lay, 60, who attended one of the student-initiated workshops last month and was one of about 280 people who took part in Monday's event, said she found making loom bands enjoyable.

She cares for her son, Mr Ng Guang Wei, 32, whose conditions include mild mental dementia and intellectual disability.

Mr Ng takes part in music enrichment and work therapy programmes at the Biz-link Day Activity Centre on weekdays.

The arrangement enables Madam Chew, who was recently widowed, to work as a restaurant server while he is at the centre.

Madam Chew, speaking in Mandarin, said: "He has a place to go to, instead of just staying at home. It is good that he is learning how to take care of himself."

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