The Service Learning Club (SLC) organised an event, ‘Walk for Knowledge’, to raise awareness for the special-needs community in Singapore in January this year, with a goal of hiking 661km.
The hikes took place on 9 Jan and 23 Jan at Pulau Ubin. The 661km represented the total number of special needs persons in Singapore – 660,960, according to statistics from the Ministry of Social and Family Development. A total of 80 RP students participated, with each student clocking roughly two and half hours of hiking.
Educational assignments were given to hikers to complete to demonstrate their understanding of special needs’ difficulties, and the assignments were published on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
Participants had to film skit-like videos of how the island could unintentionally cause harm and inconvenience to special needs persons. For example, rocky roads can cause people on wheelchairs to be unable to cross it while Braille-less directional posters can cause the visually-impaired to easily get lost.
When asked why they chose Pulau Ubin for the hikes, Ms Kelda Chua from the Office of Student and Graduate Affairs and Advisor for SLC, said: “(Pulau Ubin) is a place where there are a lot of areas where special needs people might not be able to access.”
She also added that the tasks’ objective was to immerse hikers in Pulau Ubin’s environment and to get ideas to improve its accessibility and inclusivity.
President of SLC, Ng Shao Qi, 21, a second year Health Management and Promotion student, emphasised on the need of being more inclusive of the special needs community. “Ultimately, they are still humans like every one of us,” she said.
Chai Ru Yi, a second-year Business Information Systems student and the head of SLC’s publicity team, felt that there needed to be more awareness about the different special needs types, such as developmental, sensory, emotional and behavioural.
For other participants, the hike was an eye-opening experience that had achieved its goal.
“It helped me think about the changes needed to be made,” said Nurin Atiqah Binti Amran, a first-year Business student.