By Sean Loo, Sports Editor
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information final-year student Joey Chua saw her cousin give up his passion for power lifting because of dwarfism, a medical condition that limits his growth.
The 23-year-old felt she had to do something to encourage her cousin and other persons with disability (PWDs) to pursue their passion, no matter what.
So for her final-year project (FYP), Chua, along with three of her course mates, launched a campaign to encourage PWDs to participate in sports.
Chua and her team started the the campaign titled “Project This Ability” by launching a series of initiatives that included redesigning access signs to promote participation in disability sports.
In the redesigned signs, the white figure on the handicap sign was depicted as playing either a game of basketball, tennis or table tennis.
These signs can be found in NTU and other partner institutions, such as the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Technology.
The signs can also be found in 21 MRT stations and 26 sports complexes, among other places.
Paralympic table tennis player Mr Harrison Gan called the redesigns as “very creative” and “really helpful” in encouraging PWDs to pick up sports.
“I feel that (the redesigned signs) really does help when it comes to creating sports awareness among the general public, especially leading up to the ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur later this year,” said the 25-year-old.
Mr Gan, who represented Singapore in the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, expressed his wish for the signs to remain up in public areas in the long run.
But the signs are likely to be taken down when the FYP campaign ends in April.
The team is also creating a centralised platform with a consolidated timetable of all para-sports activities in Singapore.
Team member Jeremy Hau told the Nanyang Chronicle he was “surprised” when he previously could not find any such timetables.
“PWDs would not know where to go even if they wanted to play sports,” Hau pointed out.
Despite their progress, the team’s journey was not all smooth sailing.
On 21 Feb, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) uploaded the group’s design on its Facebook page, leaving out the necessary credits and cropping out the Project This Ability logo.
When the group emailed ITTF for proper attribution, the organisation replied by saying: “The photo had a reach of 35,000, which is already a credit to you and your work.”
The reply, shared on Facebook by a member of the FYP group, drew the ire of netizens and other students.
The ITTF has since described the incident as a “big miscommunication” and reposted the group’s designs with the appropriate credits.
When asked to explain the meaning of the email, ITTF head of communications Matt Pound explained that the reply did not intend to discredit the students’ work.
“What was intended for it to be meant is it’s good for everyone in general,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to credit (the group).”
Mr Pound added that he hopes the students “continue to keep on the good work” in promoting disability sports.
Hau said the team has already moved on from the incident, adding that they hope to collaborate with the ITTF in the future to “further the disability sports scene”.
“We will also be contacting the ITTF to see if they can help us share our videos and other resources,” Hau added.
The team also held a “Project This Ability Sports Day” on 4 Mar at the UOB auditorium in Lengkok Bahru from morning till early afternoon.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu attended the event as its Guest of Honour.
The event gave PWDs and their caretakers the opportunity to try out six types of disability sports: Boccia, goalball, para badminton, para table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
“I hope to see many PWDs signing up for sports classes during the sports day,” Hau said.