Joining The Purple Parade

By Christal Zhuang

This year's The Purple Parade was a special experience for me. 

Having an elder sister with Down syndrome, I know how hard is it for people to accept them for who they are. You have to know how to be patient and understanding with them. You also need to help them identify their strengths, so that they can use them to their advantage. 

It is not easy working with them, but it is not that hard as well. I know this because my 19-year-old sister, who is currently studying at MINDS Employment Development Centre at Woodlands, has shown and taught me what is required to work with them.

On normal days, it is actually quite happy living with her. But on days where she is feeling a little upset, it is hard to communicate with her. When she wants something, no one can change her mind. When we make plans to go out, our family will have to accommodate to her when she insists on staying home. 

At her age, my sister is still unable to travel alone because she cannot work with unexpected situations. She once took the MRT and missed her stop. She found it challenging to take the opposite train home. 

Also, she is not good in math and cannot really count, making it hard for her to buy things independently. Even though my sister can be stubborn at times, the joy and happiness that she brings to our family makes us forget about that. You just need to be patient. 

When I first heard about The Purple Parade a few years ago, I was really interested to take part in it, or to witness the parade at least. This event is really meaningful as it helps to spread awareness and celebrate people with intellectual disabilities. 

This year, I finally had a chance to take part in The Purple Parade's contingent march for the first time. It was also my first time working with people with special needs, other than my sister. 

Before the parade, my team WindMill and I, a group of young aspirants from Youth Corps Singapore, worked closely with MINDS. Through our social enterprise, we hope to provide sustainable employment for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PWIDS), so that they can be more confident while supporting themselves financially. 

We were split into two groups and each paired up with a student from Towner Gardens School that was taking part in the contingent march. It was an honour to be representing MINDS at the contingent march of The Purple Parade. 

When I first reached Hong Lim Park, I was amazed. I was moved to see so many people that came to support this event. People were cheering on the performing schools and most of them wore purple in the spirit of The Purple Parade. 

Every contingent involved in the parade had some sort of theme. We dressed ourselves as the "Purple Heroes", so each of us had a cape, a mask and a hand band to represent our contingent, which I thought was really cool. 

The most significant part of The Purple Parade was being able to work with the student from Towner Gardens School. Seeing her enjoying the contingent march as I accompanied her made me feel grateful for the opportunity to take part in the event. Seeing her happy and her smiling is the one thing I will always remember from this event.


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