...event was organized by the same team behind the nationwide Share the Care SG campaign which was put forward by four students from Nanyang Technological University to encourage Singaporeans to provide support for people who help those with special needs. This campaign highlights the challenges these caregivers face and educates the community on how to provide help to family-caregivers they know. The MACD event was co organized with Asian Women's Welfare Association (AWWA) Caregiver Connect and supported by Central District Singapore and other patrons.
Guest of Honour and Mayor of Central District Singapore, Ms Denise Phua, shared a poignant point of her caregiving journey as she recounted an occasion 16 years ago when her then young son who has autism was misunderstood and hit by a dog owner. The man had misread the child's outward show of affection for his dogs as an unkind gesture. While hurt by the man's action then, Ms Phua realized that while there are people who may respond negatively to those with special needs, there are also people who will have big enough hearts to see beyond face value and support the very same population and their families. She reminded the participants that diversity in society is a very normal condition and that people with differences should have access to the same basic things everyone else has a right to. She also encouraged caregivers to do their best for the ones they are entrusted to care for. Other caregivers who shared their experiences at the event include Kenneth Mah, Vice President and co-founder of Rare Disorders Society (Singapore), Jamie Yun, mother to Baby Yujia who has Oesophageal Atresia, and Lee Fang, mother to a teenage son with autism. Mr Manmohan Singh, Director, Family and Caregiver Support, AWWA also thanked the Share the Care SG team for their nationwide campaign in reaching out to caregivers. Mr Jeffery Tan, President of Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore(MINDS), also took the time to share about the various programmes and services available to support this community.
There was representation of various diagnosis groups at the event, with representatives and families attending from Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS), MINDS, RDSS and AWWA amongst others. The interactions at the event offers a microcosm of how society can be: working with and caring for each other regardless of differences in ability, age or diagnosis. Guests were treated to fun, games and a lunch buffet. There were game booths for children, a photo booth for families, free manicure for caregivers and a goody bag per family. There was also free ice cream and boutique brewed coffee for all from a pop up barista booth.
A campaign exhibition was also held detailing the Share the Care SG campaign journey and photo stories.
Perhaps, this is a first step towards inclusivity in Singapore. By reaching out to caregivers, we are also reaching out to their families and loved ones, who happen to have special needs. Similarly, by reaching out to the public and educating them on how to respond meaningfully, we are helping to bridge the social gap between these groups of people.
It takes Share the Care SG to get the conversation started but it takes all of us to move towards a truly inclusive country.
*Heads Up : Stay tuned for more news updates and feature stories in March centered on the theme of community care giving.