So far, I have taken part in 5 Running Hour sessions. During these sessions, everyone is paired up with an intellectually or physically challenged person to either walk, jog or run around the national stadium track or pedestrian path from the national stadium to Marina Barrage. Each time, I have been paired up with a different person, mostly those that have a form of autism.
This is a different experience for me as I have not previously done local service with people before, but mostly with animals. Therefore, this was an unfamiliar environment that I learned to adapt to and in doing so, I developed the social skills necessary to interact with intellectually or physically challenged people. I have also developed friendships with some of them and so I can feel more connected to locals in Singapore with various personal challenges. In the photos below which was taken during the sessions, guides (non-challenged) and those with disabilities are all posing together which shows that the ability to adapt to the new environment to connect within the group.
By talking to those that I was helping, I have also increased my understanding of their situations and how they are affected by their disabilities. For example, I now understand more about their education and how different schools in Singapore are specially adapted to helping the intellectually and physically challenged. I also recognise the ethical issues that they face when finding employment as most of their options are limited to retail and service jobs. This contributes to my understanding of global issues as well since this isn’t only the case in Singapore.
In terms of Running Hour itself, the positive effects of volunteering to help those with disabilities are clear. Not only does this service give them the opportunity to do exercise in a secure environment with people looking out for their safety, but it also gives them the chance to connect with other people who have disabilities and even people who don’t have disabilities. One thing to take into consideration is the mental health of the disabled, especially if topics are brought up during conversation that are particularly sensitive to them. However, I believe that the advantages to them outweigh the possible negative effects.
I first joined Tabitha GC three years ago in Grade 8. Since then, I have taken on the role of Head of Sales and Logistics Manager in the following years as well as taken on other leadership roles within projects. This year, I am looking to increase my responsibility and involvement in Tabitha by being GC Chair. I think this position will help me develop my leadership skills and increase the depth of my experience in service.
I think that I stand a good chance at getting this position as I have been with Tabitha for three years and organised many of their events as well as participated heavily in the team discussions. I have also taken on leadership roles within projects that we have done and I would know how best to engage all the members of the service. Additionally, I am looking for more depth in my commitments so I would definitely be able to take on the extra responsibility. Lastly, for Project Week later on in the year, one of the options that I’m currently looking at is a house building trip to the Tabitha NGO in Cambodia. Being GC Chair would enable me to build a good foundation for my volunteer experience there.
My involvement in the Tabitha GC has allowed me to address global issues and take action to help those in need internationally. I am looking forward to being involved again this year.
As a local service this year, I have joined Running Hour. This is a service that partners with intellectually or visually challenged members to engage in light physical activity and conversation. I am new to this service this year so I am not entirely familiar with the goals of this service. However, my expectations are that I will be able to develop an understanding of how being intellectually or visually challenged affects the lifestyle of individuals in the Singaporean community.
I have not done local service with people before, my only other local service experience was at an animal shelter. I have noted this as an area that I may have been lacking and so one thing that I am looking forward to is participating in a service that clearly impacts the local community in a different way than what I have done previously. I see this as an opportunity for me to grow in my understanding of social issues and develop my skills in interacting with people that I don’t normally interact with. With this, I can also gain insight into global issues as there are many similarities between challenged people in Singapore and overseas.
This week in Tabitha, I took on a leadership role of sorts where I contributed greatly to the discussion and made sure to organise the ideas from the group onto the minutes document. I brought my creativity to the meeting as I helped brainstorm ideas for improvements that we could make to the Tabitha gift certificates and the upcoming Holiday Fair. I was also innovative and took initiative by finding the reflections from last year’s Holiday Fair and explaining the things that we needed to work on this year. In this way, I used my previous experience to lead a discussion about planning for the event. Additionally, I took charge of recording the discussion digitally on the minutes document, showing my leadership and organisational skills. This helped the group as I was able to consolidate feasible ideas and note down everything so that we would be able to come back to it in order to refresh our memories instead of having to spend more time remembering our discussion and generating ideas again. Furthermore, I wrote a brief agenda for the next meeting so that we will have focus and know what needs to be done; therefore, we will be more efficient.
Overall, this week in Tabitha I was able to show my commitment and positive contribution to the Global Concern by taking on a leadership role in the meeting and using previous experience to look for areas that we can improve as a service group in general as well as during the upcoming Holiday Fair.