Enjoying Ubin for the first time

Enjoying Ubin for the first time
Muhd Danial, 10, (in wheelchair) with his parents, Madam Rosidah Omar, 37, and Mr Sohaimi Wari, 40.
PHOTO: TNP

Yesterday, 10-year-old Muhd Danial Sohaimi went to Pulau Ubin for the first time in his life.

The Primary 4 pupil at Canberra Primary School was one of 100 wheelchair users invited to Pulau Ubin as part of an SG50 event, Wheels @ Ubin.

Organised by Mr Dennis Quek, director at Republic Polytechnic's Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management, the event was to raise awareness about the inaccessibility of certain places in Singapore, such as nature reserves, to people with disabilities.

It is supported by the SG50 Celebration Fund.

Danial, who suffers from a genetic disorder known as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, told The New Paper that he enjoyed his day out.

He said: "I really love the sea and it is my favourite thing here."

Participants were picked up from their homes in SMRT taxis.

They were ferried to Pulau Ubin from Changi Sailing Club on five fast craft utility boats (FCUs) provided by the Republic of Singapore Navy.

Bum boats, which are normally used for travel to Pulau Ubin, could not be used as they pose a safety hazard for wheelchair users because of space constraints.

VOLUNTEERS

At Pulau Ubin, most of the participants, who are beneficiaries of the Asian Women's Welfare Association and the Society for the Physically Disabled, went on a tour around the island with the help of volunteers.

Another 22 participants from the Hand-cycling Association of Singapore toured the bicycle routes on their handcycles.

For most of the participants, it was the first time they had been to Pulau Ubin.

It was also Danial's first visit to a park or nature reserve since he started using a wheelchair two years ago.

Danial's mother, Madam Rosidah Omar, said she was thankful her son got to take part in the event, especially since areas like Pulau Ubin are usually not accessible to people using wheelchairs.

Her son lost the ability to walk when he was eight due to the debilitating muscle wasting condition that affects one in 3,500 boys worldwide.

Said the 37-year-old childcare teacher: "I am really happy that my son is able to experience this. My two older brothers had (the same condition) and they both passed away at 14 and 16 years old.

"There is no cure for this and it will only get worse as Danial grows older."

Participants were also treated to cultural performances, such as Malay dikir barat and Chinese wushu, by students from Republic Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Mr Quek said: "Having just come back from Sweden, I noticed that (the) majority of their nature trails are made accessible to (those) who are wheelchair bound."

"(We wanted) to show how much (wheelchair users) require in terms of accessibility."

Volunteer Alex Lim, 48, a senior executive, said: "It is truly fulfilling to help people experience new things and to help kids like Danial enjoy life as much as they can."


This article was first published on June 27, 2015.
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