It was planned to be a special day for some very special children in our midst. And it certainly was.

Spearheaded by Young Sikh Association (Singapore), a group of 50 volunteers arranged a day of fun activities for close to 50 children with Down syndrome on 15 July 2006 at Kolam Ayer CC. The partner organisation for the event was Down Syndrome Association (Singapore).

In an effort to better understand and appreciate persons with Down syndrome, and to help integrate them into mainstream society so that they have a richer and more meaningful life, YSA brought on board volunteers, able-bodied children and youths from various communities and different backgrounds to plan and execute the activities and to interact with these persons. More than 200 people participated in the full-day event.

The Guest-of-Honour was Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State for Transport and Finance. In her address, commending the Association for taking this initiative, she stated: “It warms our hearts to know that our youths, in particular, feel and care for others in our society who are less fortunate than them. And when they translate that empathy into action, like organising today’s Special Day with Special Kids, that is really wonderful.” She also expressed the confidence that “this interaction will help the participants better understand and appreciate persons with Down syndrome in our midst. At the same time, the event will allow for greater racial and ethnic bonding among all the participants, which is important in our efforts to create a cohesive and close-knit Singapore society.”

The programme saw the children participating in a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities such as art and craft, balloon sculpting, magic show, face painting, band performance, kids’ gym and telematches. In addition, a symposium and a sharing session were organised, under the guidance of qualified facilitators, for adults with Down syndrome, parents and care-givers, on such issues as roles and responsibilities, emotional intelligence, stress management and empowerment.

The project was supported by the Lee Foundation, Central Singapore CDC (Imagine Grant), Singapore Totalisator Board, Singapore Pools, the ChangeMaker Grant (National Youth Council), Shine Festival and Kolam Ayer CC.

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