An outreach event raises awareness of the plight of the physically-handicapped.
Contributed By Yeo Zhi Qi
Imagine teams of 10 racing down shopping malls to complete a list of tasks, such as a game of Twister, locating the unit number of shops and taking photos with strangers. That shouldn’t be a huge feat for many. Now imagine the same game being played with teams consisting of three blind, three mute and three deaf players, with only a single able-bodied person. That would definitely up the difficulty level by many folds.
Titled, “I AM ______,” this game was not just an outreach event but also a social community project that aimed to raise awareness of the physically-handicapped. Participants who took part in the event trooped down Orchard Road on Sunday, April 3, and took turns being blind, mute and deaf by wearing blindfolds, masks and earplugs.
This unusual sight caught the attention of many curious passersby, some of whom whipped out their camera phones to snap a shot. More than just drawing the attention of the crowd, the 240 City Harvest Church members, under the pastoral care of Audrey Ng, along with their 70 friends, had a taste of a day in the life of the physically-handicapped. They found themselves frustrated when they realized they were no longer able to hear, vexed when they were reminded they could no longer speak and helpless when they discovered they could no longer see.
Singer Susan Boyle, who shot to fame after appearing on reality TV program, Britain’s Got Talent, once said, “I was slightly brain-damaged at birth, and I want people like me to see that they shouldn’t let disability get in the way. I want to turn my disability into an ability.” This social community project was premised on the same endearing spirit that the singer holds and is aimed at empowering the disabled. As the name “I AM ______” suggests, objective of the outreach was to strengthen the personal identity of the disabled by provoking participants to re-think the instant association usually linked with a disabled individual’s impairment.
For undergraduate Gideon Yeo, 25, he felt that the event was meaningful. He said that it was a good step to understanding more about the needs of the disabled and underprivileged as he was able to walk in their shoes for the first time. “The best part of the game was its highly realistic application to everyday life. The attempt and ability to interact between different forms of disabilities reflected the fighting spirit that God has placed in each one of us,” said Yeo.
Lasting four hours, participants went around familiar shopping malls with tasks that were specifically designed to challenge their “disability.” Some of the challenges included the “blind” having to make a purchase over the counter, the “deaf” requesting for strangers to take a photograph together, and the “mute” gesturing to communicate game instructions to fellow team members. With assistance from their teammates, participants maneuvered around the heart of town, taking time and extra effort to complete tasks that they would have otherwise accomplished quickly.
While the participants only had to bear with their impairment for a single afternoon, they did pick up a thing or two about the plight of the physically-handicapped. Those whom City News spoke to shared that they had no idea how inconvenient being handicapped was. They ended the game more appreciative of the five senses they have always taken for granted.
Carol Wong Shi Hui, 25, a treasury specialist associate, said, “To be completely honest, taking even the first step blind-folded was daunting. I realize that grappling with physical disabilities makes it very difficult to live and get around, as not all the five senses are intact. My salute goes out to all those people with disabilities as they choose to live their lives to the fullest.”