Enabling Lives Festival seeks to build a more inclusive society
Enabling Lives Fest aims to highlight achievements of persons with disabilities and to build inclusive society
He has bilateral severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss, but Mr Winston Wong refuses to allow it to stop him from living life to the fullest.
The special needs support officer at Temasek Polytechnic, who was diagnosed with mild hearing loss at a young age, recounted recently how he was constantly bullied and teased in primary and secondary school for wearing hearing aids.
He told The New Paper: "My tough childhood has taught me to appreciate some of the little things and joys in life, and not to give up even when things appear bleak."
Mr Wong, who picked up lip-reading for communication, hopes the Enabling Lives Festival will "help build the connections among people in communities, with or without disabilities".
Organised by SG Enable, the festival is held in conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and the fifth anniversary of the Enabling Village. It seeks to strengthen connections within the disability community, as well as celebrate disability inclusion efforts and the achievements of persons with disabilities.
Mr Wong, 32, is a guest panellist at a virtual Just Ask Me! session today where the public will hear from individuals with special needs about disabilities.
He said: "I will be glad to share more about my own story and experiences, and some tips on how to interact with the deaf or hard-of-hearing."
Mr Alister Ong, 27, who has cerebral palsy, will also be speaking at Just Ask Me! sessions today and tomorrow to share how he overcame challenges, and his hopes and dreams for the future.
"I feel that the Enabling Lives Festival will benefit everyone because we are having real and open conversations where society can understand persons with disabilities," said Mr Ong, a client experience officer at social service agency AWWA.
"We have more things in common than differences, and we can live our lives to the fullest with or without disabilities."
Covid-19 has brought about a new set of challenges for the duo. Mr Ong needs help wearing a mask before going out, and Mr Wong cannot read lips during teleconferencing when others do not turn on their video cameras.
Despite the challenges, Mr Wong said: "Don't deny or feel discouraged by your disability. Embrace and own it."
Mr Ong agreed.
"All of us can play a part in building an inclusive society."
Members of the public can register for festivalevents as well as more than 15 virtual workshops, panel discussions and performances from now to Dec 22. Visit www.enablinglivesfestival.sg for more information.