During the first week of June, DPA held its first ever work attachment programme for secondary school students. 4 students from Bukit Panjang Government High School joined DPA for 5 days and obtained various kinds of new experiences. They came up with a Student Policy Proposal Guideline, Accessible Route Map to DPA’s office from the nearest Boon Lay MRT station and helped in the pilot phase of the Advocacy Training Programme held by DPA.
Here are their thoughts, in their own words.
On the first day, we stepped into the office with feelings of uncertainty. We did not know what to expect and what was expected of us. Ms Asha, the training consultant of DPA, was the person in-charge of the programme. To start off the whole programme, we had an interesting welcome session where we did a few activities to introduce ourselves and to get to know more about DPA. We also went through the Disability Awareness Talk Series (DATS) in order to build our foundation of knowledge of people with disabilities (PWDs) and what the organisation does.
Afterwards, we were given a few projects and every one of us had to lead one project. Ms Asha emphasised on the importance of effective communication and teamwork. Initially, we never really understood why these factors were important for project management, but as the days go by, we grew to understand how these factors would greatly affect the results/quality of the final product. When the communication amongst the team is poor, it affects everyone’s attitude and productivity, ultimately resulting in the possibility of being unable to meet the project’s’ deadlines or producing low-quality work.
Ms Asha also emphasised on the importance of aligning whatever we do to the mission of DPA; Vox Nostra – being the voice of persons with disabilities, working with them to achieve full participation and equal status in the society through independent living. By being attached to DPA, whatever we do, in a sense, is what DPA is doing and as representatives of DPA, we should not be doing things that are not focused or related to the mission of DPA. We have learnt that while doing projects of any sorts, we should always set the tone, the main message we want to convey and work towards that. This allows us to not deviate from our original goal and eventually being able to produce work that is of good quality.
We also attended an Inclusion Ambassador Training session together with three people with disabilities. This session was the first time we interacted with people with different types of disabilities and it was an enriching and eye-opening experience for us as we listened to them share with us their personal experience. We learnt how to interact with the Visually Impaired (VI), people with physical disabilities and people with autism spectrum disorder.
Something that struck us the most were some remarks from the people with disabilities. While filming a video for one of our projects, the lady with physical disability who was helping us mentioned that sometimes, even when people see her struggle with wheeling up the ramp, they never offer help or even move out of the way. Another instance was when the lady with visual impairment mentioned how she wears sunglasses to “look blind” since some people think that she was pretending to be blind. This so that she can get help more easily. These remarks got us thinking.
Why is the society nowadays so cold-hearted and selfish? Why do people simply turn a blind eye towards others in need of help? Why do people judge whether a person needs help or not by how “in need” they look? Why are people so skeptical towards giving others a helping hand?
It is not difficult to lend a helping hand. There are only two simple steps you need take to assist them effectively. First of all, approach them in a friendly manner and ask them if they need any help. If so, do ask what you need to do to help them. Do not assume the type of help they need.
We hope, that we can do something to change the general public’s attitude towards people with disabilities. We hope, that the society can move towards inclusiveness, towards less judgements and more acceptance. We hope, that one day Singapore, or even the world, can allow full integration of people with disabilities into the society and that everyone can live their lives without feeling ostracized or looked down upon.
The 5 days of attachment programme have been fruitful and enriching and definitely an experience we will all hold close to our hearts. Thank you, DPA, for giving us such a wonderful time!
Here’s a vlog done by the students on what they learnt at DPA.