Shout Out Not Shut Out

The friendship between two unlikely people through a Temasek Foundation Cares initiative – Play-ability.

Who would have thought that what started out as a community service opportunity would evolve into a life-changing experience for 21-year-old student, Jared Chew?

Despite his hectic school schedule, Jared devotes his Friday afternoons to exercising in the swimming pool with residents of THK Home for Disabled @ Eunos.

Co-run by SportCares, a Sport Singapore initiative that helps the underprivileged, and Temasek Foundation Cares, Play-Ability seeks to provide an avenue for people with disabilities to engage in sporting activities, and foster social interaction.

It is a pilot programme to run for three years, in 8 to 12 week cycles. Volunteers work with trained coaches to provide the physically and intellectually disabled greater access to sporting activities. Those who show potential and interest in coaching may be offered subsidised training to be qualified coaches, enabling a self-sustaining programme.

While his friends head home to enjoy their weekends, Jared makes the long journey every Friday from his school, ITE College West in Choa Chu Kang, to Heartbeat@Bedok where he meets Wei Lun, from the Home. Together, they practise kicking with floats while having fun in the water, helping to keep Wei Lun active and healthy.

At first, Jared found it challenging to break the ice with Wei Lun. Jared recalls how “it was a bit hard to communicate with him” in the first two sessions but he reminded himself, “my goal is to help people.”

By the third session, Jared managed to break through to Wei Lun. Nearing the end of the programme, Wei Lun began to speak with proper words and warmed towards Jared.

Jared recognises that his friendship with Wei Lun has helped him become a better person – to embrace patience, gratitude and empathy. Their heart-warming friendship is the result of unconditional trust and mutual understanding.

“I think there should be more programmes like this because it gives people a chance to help out and participants to feel loved.”

Since Play-Ability started in March 2018, more than 60 beneficiaries have participated in sports like badminton, futsal and aqua activities. Sessions are overseen by volunteer-coaches from sports volunteer group Team Nila and ITE Colleges, and participants are paired with at least one volunteer each to ensure each beneficiary receives full attention.

 Temasek Foundation Cares (TFCares) focuses on improving the lives of underprivileged individuals, families and communities in Singapore. TFCares is part of our family of six Foundations supporting various causes and needs in our community. More about them here.

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