December 7, 2020
Photos by: Bryan van der Beek | Words by: Melody Zaccheus
(Photo above) A quick group photo of the MINDS clients and DBS volunteers before they visit the ArtScience Museum. While the day was originally slated to include a sailboat ride at Marina Bay, the sailing portion was cancelled and the programme was changed to a walk around the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) to view the Christmas decorations.
After one too many Zoom meet-ups, following months of being cooped up at home, leisurely sailing sessions around the Bay had been planned for 70 beneficiaries of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS).
The idea was to give them a chance to soak in scenic views of the Bay, enjoy the breeze and pick up sailing tips from the Republic’s national sailors who had been activated to man the vessels.
The sailing trip would have been beneficiaries’ first outing with MINDS since the Circuit Breaker was implemented on April 7.
Unfortunately, as what we have come to expect from 2020, the rain came pouring down in sheets and the sailing sessions MINDS had planned in collaboration with DBS and the Singapore Sailing Federation for December 3 and 4, as part of the SG Cares Giving Week, were cancelled abruptly.
Thankfully, the bad weather which darkened skies and engorged the Bay, did not put a dampener on beneficiaries’ spirits. They were still keen to interact with volunteers from DBS and eager to explore the Marina Bay lifestyle precinct as part of organisers’ wet weather plans, said MINDS’ engagement executive Mr Chan Jian Hong, 31.
(Above) A DBS volunteer helps a MINDS client take a photo of his friends at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
Over four sessions on Thursday and Friday, with the assistance of 10 DBS volunteers, beneficiaries were shown around Marina Bay Sands (MBS). They oohed and aahed at the mall’s luxe Christmas decorations and posed for photos with the glittering skyscraper.
They also had the chance to explore the ArtScience Museum’s Future World: Where Art Meets Science showcase. There, they stepped into a world of art, science and magic and interacted with the exhibition’s various digital light installations.
Mr Chan said beneficiaries enjoyed themselves thoroughly. “Far from being disappointed, they understood that the weather was out of our control and instead took delight in the fact that our spontaneous wet weather activity was already something ‘out of the ordinary’ considering how this year has been like — what with most of us stuck at home.
“Outings in collaboration with corporate groups are opportunities for our clients to hone their social skills and confidence.”
Mr Chan Jian Hong, engagement executive, MINDS
“At one of our four sessions with DBS, one of our clients in his 20s ran up to introduce himself to a volunteer even before we could match him. This showed us that he really missed social interactions and that he was also very enthused about the experience.”
Mr Chan said that the Circuit Breaker had brought about a sense of social isolation among some of MINDS’ clients and their caregivers. Staff mitigated this over the past six months by making regular phone calls and scheduling online meetings. He added, “We’re planning more outdoor activities for the upcoming calendar year to change up beneficiaries’ everyday, stay-home routines. Outings in collaboration with corporate groups are opportunities for our clients to hone their social skills and confidence.”
DBS’ senior associate from the bank’s People of Purpose team, Ms Adalia Tan, 34, said that if not for the rain, beneficiaries would have gotten the chance to steer the vessels, lower their sails, and learn the mechanics of sailing from members of the Singapore Sailing Federation. Additionally, these professionals would have also demonstrated nifty tricks like sailing the boat at a sharp (but safe) angle.
(Above) A volunteer from DBS points out the various sites to a MINDS client after their sailing trip was cancelled and they took the opportunity to walk around the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
The bank had originally set aside five of its sailboats and enlisted the help of 10 volunteers to serve as extra sets of eyes and hands on deck so caregivers would be able to take time off to enjoy the refreshing, one-of-a-kind boating experience.
Ms Tan said, “Unfortunately we had to make the call to shut the sessions down in consultation with the Federation. Even if the rain had stopped, it would have been too slippery to transfer participants from the speed boat to the sailboat. Safety is our top concern when we are out in the water.”
The bank’s Sailing at the Bay programme which started in 2016 offers members of the public and persons-with-disabilities the chance to go sailing for free as part of its commitment to enliven the bay and provide opportunities for everyone to try sailing at least once.
On the partnership with DBS, Mr Chan said, “We love that there’s mutual trust between us — the Social Service Agency and the corporate entity. We work together to deliver a satisfying programme to lift beneficiaries’ spirits.”
With such a well-established relationship between MINDS and DBS, beneficiaries have hung their hopes on going sailing down the road, likely in 2021 — a year which all of us hope will bring us joy and less disappointment of course.