Singapore, 9 December 2011 – To most people, helping people with disabilities means an outright donation or spending just an afternoon with them. A few will think longer term and talk about assisting people with disabilities to ensure they have a means of independent livelihood. Today, StarHub took empowering disabled people a step further, by bringing 16 clients of the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) to do their part for the environment by cleaning up some parts of Changi Beach Park.

Under the hot sun, about 50 staff volunteers from StarHub assisted the SPD clients to collect garbage and flotsam from the beach and park areas at Changi Beach. They collected a total of 74 bags, for which StarHub donated $300,000 from the StarHub Sparks Fund. The donation will go towards transport and assistive technology subsidies for SPD clients, as well as rehabilitative subsidies for continuing therapy for the SPD clients who are children.

“This is something that’s never been done here before. No one would ever have thought that disabled people could take on such an onerous social service, one that even the able-bodied would find daunting,” highlighted Mr Neil Montefiore, CEO, StarHub.

“But StarHub doesn’t just want to assist the disadvantaged; we want to empower them,” he continued. “We wanted to give the clients of SPD a different perspective of community service by showing them that they too could be active contributors to society. From being on the receiving end of others’ charitable efforts, it is now they who are helping the community. We hope that by giving them this opportunity, they will now be imbued with a greater sense of pride and independence.”

“We are grateful for StarHub’s support in raising funds for us in this innovative and educative way,”said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD. “SPD relies on the contributions of the community to be able to provide essential programmes and services for people with disabilities. Through this event, StarHub is enabling and empowering people with disabilities by helping to fund crucial services such as transport,therapy and technology. It is an added delight to know that this platform allows us to improve our environment at the same time and to show that people with disabilities can indeed contribute to the community."

Both Mr Montefiore and Ms Chia praised the efforts of the volunteers, both from StarHub and SPD, which took place mainly during the scorching noon hours. They also acknowledged the close support of the National Environment Agency and the National Parks Board, who monitored the beach and park in the preceding days to ensure a successful event.

After the hard work of cleaning up the litter, StarHub volunteers and SPD clients sat down in high spirits to bond over lunch and talk about their shared experience.

“I’m really glad to have been able to help both people with disabilities as well as the environment at the same time”, opined Chang Tou Yuen from StarHub’s Corporate Sales Department, who brought his daughter along for the experience. “And I think it’s fantastic that we are able to give disabled people a chance to show the world that they can help in social causes too.”

“Coming to the beach to pick litter is something I have never done. People like a clean beach, not a dirty one. I’m happy to come and help clean up,” said SPD client Mr Thomas Thong.