SINGAPORE - When people find out that Hay Qing Hui, 22, has special needs, some react by going out of their way to help him.
"Having a disability can hamper us in some ways but it doesn't mean we can't lead normal lives and accomplish what others can. Many of us strive very hard to be independent and it means a lot to us," he told My Paper.
That is why he is participating in A Nation In Concert, a musical taking place on Nov 8 at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands, which seeks to empower people with "different needs" and show that they can rise above their disabilities.
"I want to show people that it's not just ordinary people who can give back to the community. Even with my disabilities, I can too," said Mr Hay.
An instructor aide with the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) who helps special-needs individuals improve their fine motor skills, Mr Hay will play a mud skipper in the musical, which is centred on the diversity of life in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
With pop-style tunes, the musical's script is penned by award-winning playwright Desmond Sim and directed by Jonathan Lim, who runs the popular comedy sketch show Chestnuts. It is being presented by The Rotary Club of Pandan Valley.
The musical is about not judging other people, and accepting their differences.
The event first ran in 2005, then in 2006 and 2008 before taking a six-year hiatus.
Participating in this year's musical are more than 100 "differently abled" volunteers from the APSN, Handicaps Welfare Association, Singapore Association for the Deaf, and the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.
In fact, Mr Hay performed in the first A Nation In Concert musical in 2005, when he was a student at the APSN-run Chaoyang School and part of the school's percussion group.
"A Nation In Concert gives the differently abled an opportunity to explore our talent and gives us the rare chance to go up on stage and perform," he said.
For differently abled people who want to perform but think that they may be hampered by their disabilities, he had this advice: "Find passion in what you do, persevere, and you will succeed."
The musical will also feature a volunteer cast of theatre professionals and actors, including Nora Samosir and Patricia Mok.
All participants in the musical are pitching in for free.
"Many people think that (the differently abled) will not be able to perform," said Mok, an actress. "But we actually have a lot to learn from them. I've learnt to treasure what I have and to work harder."
WHAT: A Nation In Concert, a 2 1/2-hour musical
WHERE: The Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
WHEN: Nov 8; there are two shows, one at 3pm and the other at 7.30pm
HOW MUCH: Tickets are priced from $35 to $100 and are available from Sistic.
All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the participating voluntary welfare organisations.
Visit www.anationinconcert.com for more information
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