SMK Muhibbah, Sandakan, Sabah
SHE had won three gold medals for Malaysia but only her family members were there to greet her at the airport, said a Whatsapp message about the poor reception Felicia Mikat from Sabah received.
This was after her three-gold-medal win at the Eighth Asean Para Games held in Singapore in December last year.
The message quickly caught the attention of many, including the media and state government who then came out to support the visually impaired athlete.
It was both the plight and the perseverance of the 16-year-old, that had a group of students thinking about the abilities of the disabled and the potential they had in bringing pride to the nation.
Seeing that the disabled can deliver, the prolific Team Mettlesome of SMK Muhibbah, Sandakan, were inspired to use Felicia as the face of their Public Service Announcement poster.
The impressive poster with the tagline “#Let’s Celebrate! Disabled Are Capable’’ by Team Mettlesome comprising Muhammad Irfan Yassin, Norhanisha Mohd Irwan, Nazierah Natasha Erati and Nor Hazirah Sardon caught the eye of the judges and won the Outstanding Award for the best poster entry from Sabah.
“What we felt was that Felicia, the daughter of a farmer, has shown everyone that the disabled too, are just as capable.
“She has shown that despite her background and her disability, she is able to contribute and make the country proud,’’ said Muhammad Irfan in explaining the team’s rationale in featuring Felicia in its poster.
He said that there was a lot of focus given to the able-bodied sportsmen and sportswomen. But it was little-known disabled athletes like Felicia, who needed the attention as they were excelling in the fields they were in.
“We brainstormed and discussed how best to bring out the message. Felicia was the central figure in it. “Many do not appreciate the sacrifices and contributions of the disabled,’’ said Muhammad Irfan who spoke on behalf of the team.
Working together, they strung a sentence for the poster that read: “We might not appreciate nor understand what it is like to be disabled but that should not stop us from recognising the abilities and outstanding achievements of these true Malaysians. Take pride in supporting them.’’
In their poster with Felicia and the Malaysian flag in the background, they also quoted the runner: “I can see things but not at a distance, and not at night. What is important is for me to work harder and never give up. Who knows, I might be a world sprinter one day.’’
For Muhammad Irfan and his team – all 17-year-olds – crafting the poster helped them understand that the disabled were indeed capable.
They also spent time finding appropriate words in the English language to convey the message.
“We enjoyed doing the PSA poster. We felt good about it as we did our part by creating awareness on the plight of the disabled,’’ he said.
Winning the Outstanding Award was sweet success. It is the sixth time that the students from the school had participated in The Star’s yearly NiE contests.
Their teacher Natasha Naharuddin Boro, said that the students worked on their own without much supervision.
“They came up with the idea and developed the content... my role was merely to guide them,” said Natasha who has been encouraging her students to participate in the event annually.
SMK Muhibbah Sandakan principal Jefri Abdul Ahmad said that the contest was good as it helped shape young minds not only in learning the English language but in helping them understand issues that need to be addressed through Public Service Announcements.
The school, he said, will continue to encourage students to participate in the competition as it helps them develop their critical thinking skills while boosting their self-confidence.