Benefits of sports for the disabled community

Benefits of sports for the disabled community

Singapore has made great strides in building a more inclusive society ("Breaking down the barriers"; last Saturday).

I applaud the advocates for the disabled community, whose efforts have brought about important changes over the years.

Much has been done in the transport, education, employment, early intervention and other domains to break down the barriers for the disabled community. But one area we should place more emphasis on is sports.

Besides the physical benefits, sports encourage disabled people to look beyond their disabilities and focus on their abilities. Taking up sports can help them break down their personal barriers, be they social, psychological or physical.

Disabled athletes like Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh (swimming), Laurentia Tan and Maximillian Tan (equestrian), and many others have brought honours at the international level to Singapore. But one does not have to look towards elite athletes to be inspired.

Kelvin Tan, the blind Project Superstar winner, runs and plays soundball (modified tennis for the visually impaired); Mr Jason Chee, the sailor who lost both legs and an arm, plays table tennis and recently picked up badminton and bowling.

Disabled athletes have to overcome much more to play their chosen sports well. But in doing so, they step out into the larger society, gain confidence in their abilities and enrich not only their own lives but also those of others.

As a society, we should support and encourage our disabled "brothers and sisters" (to borrow a term from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's maiden National Day Rally speech in 2004) to take up sports.

In December next year, Singapore will be hosting the 8th ASEAN Para Games. Let this event be the catalyst to further evolve the sporting landscape for the disabled community by rallying society to push the boundaries of disabled sports.

Kerk Kim Por

Deputy Chairman

8th ASEAN Para Games Singapore 2015 Executive Committee

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