12/09/2015 11:30:00 pm

Disability, not inability.

The 8th edition of the ASEAN Paragames was held over six days, from 3 to 9 December.

A friend had told me he was volunteering as a Motivator for Paragames, so I decided to join him.

In short, it was a really eye opening experience. Even though I only came for three days out of six available days, I had a lot of fun. 15 sports, 10 countries,  3000 athletes and officials, and 600 million fans.

Quoting from the ASEAN Paragames 2015 website: 
The name “Para” is derived from the word “Parallel”, indicating that the Games for Para-athletes are parallel with the Games for able-bodied athletes. ASEAN Para Games is a sport event held after every Southeast Asian Games for ASEAN athletes with physical disabilities, with mobility disabilities, visual disabilities, intellectual disabilities, amputees, and those with spastic and cerebral palsy. The games are typically hosted by the same country in the same year where the SEA Games would take place.
When I saw the players, full of courage, determination and passion, I was inspired. 

When we sang the national anthem as one, I was moved.

When we were cheering wholeheartedly, spurring the players on, I was in high spirits.

When we won an event and was almost as happy as the players themselves, the stands almost shaking due to us jumping excitedly, I was utterly elated. Not just because we had won, but also I liked to think that our constant cheering played a part in the process.

When we stood in two lines outside the doors and welcomed groups of people to the event, I was happy. We'd clap and sing 'We say welcome, we say welcome' in the tune of When the Saints Come Marching In. Even though it was early in the morning, some kids were still rather enthusiastic and responded to my high fives. Even the elder uncles and aunties waved, really smiled big genuine smiles and wanted to high five us. Even though we had to report one hour earlier than usual for today (8am), I felt that it was worth it.

I had three major takeaways:

Empathise. These people do not need our pity-they just need our support. With support and motivation, anything is possible. Look at these people who have clinched medals. Just them stepping into the court/field/arena/pool, coming all the way here for the Paragames is already a blessing.

Cherish what you have. You are healthy enough to be able to sit in front of your computer or hold your phone and read this. Never take these basic privileges for granted.

Just do it. Don't think too much about it- I'm not talking about negative influences or activities, but activities like this. When my friend told me about this volunteering thing, I didn't really think much and agreed to it (after checking my schedule and with my parents of course). Sometimes if you think too much, you spend so much time overthinking, that when you finally made up your mind, you realise that that opportunity had already passed while you were still pondering over it.

Finally, I'd like to end this post with a quote that I saw frequently over the past few days; on volunteers' polo shirts, on banners, on walls, on posters, everywhere.

"Celebrate the Extraordinary"


  1. Awe, It is really sweet that you posted this!

    1. Aw thank you Martin. I just write what I feel about the topic.


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