Embodying the APG spirit, the Opening Ceremony was an eye-opener – where participants with disabilities and the able-bodied performed alongside one another to “Celebrate the Extraordinary”. “Live” sign language interpretation and “live” captioning of the show were also included for the first time in such events.
The Opening Ceremony consisted of five musical movements as follows:
Movement 1 – Stretching the boundaries
Movement 2 – A world of creative possibilities
Movement 3 – Shooting for the best
Movement 4 – Fire your imagination
Movement 5 – Celebration of the extraordinary
Each movement has deep significance, challenging the audience to reflect on the true meaning of the 8th APG while showcasing the artistic talents of people with disabilities.
Philip Tan, the Ceremonies’ Creative Director, Music Director and Composer, commented, "People with disabilities have been central to the creative process of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. They have been the beating heart which has given life and spirit to this remarkable show. Every single item has been anchored, inspired and/or created by an athlete, performer or Creative Team member with disability. These are the people who help us to grasp, expand and spread the true meaning of the ASEAN Para Games. We say ‘Celebrate the Extraordinary’!” The performers ranging from primary school students to the elderly, with a range of abilities, came together as one and put up a beautiful show to reach deep into our hearts. Throughout the five movements, a strong message was sent out – that given the right support, tools and opportunities, people with disabilities can be enabled and included to serve Singapore with their talents. Each of them creating possibilities wherever they may find them, fuelled with the support from their family.
One example is the group of performers in Movement 5, comprising of children and youth with varied diagnosis and spectrum of disability - the only group where able-bodied caregivers performed together with their loved ones with disabilities using assistive music technology, a feat which would have been difficult for them to perform at a national level with traditional musical instruments. Ms Michelle Lee Choy Hoong, Founder and CEO of I’m Soul Inc, a social enterprise, strongly believes that anyone can make music when enabled with the right tools.
Eight year old performer Jarene Hong, created music by using the Soundbeam (an award-winning motion sensor beam) to translate her dance movements into sounds, alongside her mother. Hilmi from Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive has profound multiple disabilities. Performing on such a large stage would seem an impossibility for him or his mother. The Soundbeam enabled him to “perform” and make beautiful music when the movement of his wheelchair pushed by his mother activated the beam. Other performers like teenager Kai Li from Down Syndrome Association (DSA) also had the experience of a lifetime when she, her sister Li Shan and her DSA friend Celeste hit the “drums” (the Soundbeam switches). Kai Li’s other DSA friend Samuel showed off his flair on the tactile Skoog with his mother whilst Reuben and his mother let their fancy footwork be translated into music. Performing together has brought these youngsters and their families closer together. The friendships made will last long after the APG has ended.
The imagery of people with disability is evolving, catalyzed by the 8th ASEAN Para Games. The performers have shown the world how abilities can be harnessed and celebrated, even when differently abled, as long as everyone is included and integrated in society. Aptly highlighted by Philip Tan, the Ceremonies’ Creative Director, Music Director and Composer, he said, “The finest legacy would be a renewed respect for people of all abilities. Join us in a jubilant celebration of, by and for people from all walks of life. What a perfect image to inspire us all to strive towards a more inclusive community, society, country, region and world that we dream for!"