College students with bodily disabilities earn awards for going further mile to excel, Parenting & Training Information & Prime Tales

SINGAPORE – If there is one thing Victoria Junior College student Aaron Sim would like to say to other children with severe physical disabilities, it is to lead lives with a positive outlook.

This approach helped the 16-year-old, who suffers from limb girdle muscular dystrophy and Asperger’s Syndrome, achieve excellent academic performance during his school years.

When he was in 3rd secondary school, he had to undergo spinal surgery for scoliosis, which is common in children with muscular dystrophy. That didn’t stop him from scoring four awards and a grade point average of 3.7 with a maximum score of four in that year’s final exams.

On Saturday (November 20), Aaron received the Community Integration Service Award for Outstanding Educational Achievement from the AWWA Social Service for his efforts to assert himself.

Schoolmate Xian Xun Tan received the AWWA Outstanding Buddy Award for helping Aaron in school.

A total of 30 prizes were awarded to recognize efforts to integrate children and young people with physical disabilities into mainstream schools and to help them reach their full potential.

AWWA chief JR Karthikeyan said the awards recognize how resilient children can be to “integrate themselves”.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling commended the Community Integration Service, a division of AWWA, for enabling students with special needs to reach their full potential and participate meaningfully in their schools and community. She took part in the event as a virtual guest of honor and gave a speech.

She stressed that each year the program provides over 300 students from more than 180 mainstream schools with the skills they need to meet the needs of mainstream education and community integration.

“We all need to help build an empowering and supportive ecosystem for people with disabilities,” said Ms. Sun, who is also the minister of state for education.

Notable alumni of the program are the Paralympists Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh, Maximillian Tan and Jovin Tan.

Temasek Polytechnic student Raphaella Gautama is another student who was recognized on Saturday for her courage and determination to excel.

PHOTO: AWWA LTD

The 17-year-old who is studying law and management was diagnosed with a rare disease called Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva at age 15.

The disease leads to the formation of bones in damaged soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, resulting in constant pain and restricted mobility. She has difficulty eating and speaking because she can only open her jaw about 1 cm.

The aspiring attorney said she was determined not to let her condition thwart her desire to succeed in life. “I don’t want to lower my own standards just because I’m having more trouble,” she said.

“I want to perform well in spite of all adversities, so that people accept me for who I am and not just write off my disability or equate it with me.”

Aaron shares the same opinion.

The teenager, who is in a wheelchair and whose condition continues to deteriorate, said: “It is important not to perceive our handicap as a weakness. Each of us has our own strengths and it is important to stay positive.”

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