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A dazzling display of talent


A special concert to showcase the talents of the disabled turned out to be a resounding success.

DID you catch the Special Arts and Cultural Concert on RTM’s TV1 on Feb 22?

The one-and-a-half hour show was televised nationwide over the prime-time evening slot.

Viewers – both in the auditorium and at home – were mesmerised by a number of impressive performances from the disabled.

The Deaf put up an incredible show. Remember, these are gifted performers who are unable to hear the music and song. They depend on their hearing guide choreographers to lead them through each step and movement.

Despite the challenges, the dancers displayed full confidence. They hardly missed a step, and seemed to be enjoying themselves as they were beaming from ear to ear.

Not to be outdone, persons with learning disabilities were also determined to make an impression at the concert.

Audiences were treated to an inspiring choir presentation and solo piano recitals by autistic performers which drew thunderous applause from the auditorium.

The blind sang their hearts out. However, the most electrifying performance came from a wheelchair dancer. At one point, he literally turned upside down with his wheelchair above him and his body on the floor! He then flipped adroitly back to his original position and continued with his dance.

It must have been an awesome day for the performers as they showcased their talents to an able-bodied society in a bid to dispel any negative stereotypes of the disabled.

Kudos to the Social Welfare Department (JKM) and RTM for putting together the show to commemorate almost 70 years of close co-operation.

Anyone watching the show will know that the whole effort was to create a positive attitude towards those living with a disability. And for that, I take my hat off to JKM and RTM.

N. Pathmanathan, Principal Assistant Director of JKM’s Department for the Development of Persons with Disabilities, told me that one of the main goals of his office is to showcase the talents, potential and creativity of these vulnerable groups.

“We are glad that the programme was able to use arts and culture to bring out the best in disabled people as well as to help non-disabled persons to re-examine negative perceptions that they may have of people with disabilities.”

Pathmanathan said that putting together such a show involved quite a bit of preparation.

“We approached various government agencies, NGOs and voluntary welfare workers and asked them to pick the best of their disabled talents,” said Pathmanathan.

“With RTM’s help, we held three auditions in Kuching (Sarawak), Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) and Angkasapuri in Kuala Lumpur.”

The selected participants were given special training by instructors and choreographers from RTM.

“After undergoing four days of intensive training before the show, we were more than convinced that they were showcase material for a ‘live’ broadcast,” said Pathmanathan.

JKM sponsored the event and covered transportation, accommodation and food for the participants. As many as 350 persons with disabilities and their caregivers were involved in the concert.

“The feedback we have received so far is encouraging,” said Pathmanathan. “There were many requests from other disabled persons who were keen to be featured as artistes.

“Whilst we don’t have immediate plans for the next event, we are pleased that RTM has expressed interest in featuring the concert participants in some of their regular music shows and programmes.”

Besides using music and culture to promote awareness of disabled people, there are plans afoot to help improve their quality of life. These include providing more educational opportunities for the disabled to empower them.

“We will be working more closely with the disabled who have trouble getting a job or holding on to one,” said Pathmanathan.

“Many of them have complained to us about various issues. Some have problems accessing their workplace, coping with the demands of their jobs, or sometimes they are ignored by colleagues,” said Pathmanathan.

“We will be increasing the number of job coaches who are specialists trained by us to work one-on-one with the disabled by going to their homes or workplaces and helping them solve problems together,” added Pathmanathan.

Opinion , Lifestyle , anthony thanasayan , deaf , disabled

Anthony Thanasayan

Anthony Thanasayan

Wheelchair-bound Anthony Thanasayan champions the rights of the disabled, and provides insight into living with a disability.

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