SINGAPORE - In the day, Ms Alvina Neo, 27, works part-time as a laboratory officer. At night, she pursues a social work degree at the Singapore University of Social Sciences or goes for training in air pistol shooting.
Despite having spina bifida - a congenital condition resulting in the incomplete development of the spinal cord - and frequent visits to the hospital after dislocating her left shoulder in 2014, the para-athlete has pressed on to pursue her ambition of being a social worker to help special needs children. Her degree course started in 2012 and she hopes to complete it by this year.
She said: "I hope to be able to be different from other social workers because I've been in the shoes of a client, I've had a disability since birth, and I've had a lot of challenges in life. So, I understand where (the special needs children) are coming from and hope I can further advocate for them."
She was recognised Tuesday for her resilience to upgrade her skills, and was one of the first 24 recipients of the new SkillsFuture Study Awards for people with disabilities, as well as the job coaches and professionals who support them. The awards are worth $5,000 each.
The two award categories - for people with disabilities and for disability employment professionals - were launched in September last year, and are part of the national SkillsFuture movement that encourages people to upgrade their skills.
The first category recognises people with disabilities who showed perseverance to upskill and develop themselves, and 22 people received this award. The second category recognises professionals who play a pivotal role in supporting people with disabilities in getting and sustaining their jobs, and two people received this award.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin presented the awards at a ceremony at the Enabling Village in Redhill on Tuesday (May 30).
Ms Ku Geok Boon, chief executive of SG Enable, a government-established agency which helps people with disabilities, said: "I am heartened to see the commitment to upskilling demonstrated by the (award winners). I hope more people will... join us in this journey of lifelong learning."
Application for the awards are ongoing. To apply, go to www.skillsfuture.sg/studyawards