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Check out: The Autism Advantage

In recent years, there has been more talk about inclusivity and integration for persons with special needs (PWSN). Yet, many of us do not know how to or where to begin.

An exhibition at the B2 Atrium of Guoco Tower that ends on Sunday (Feb 26) focuses on the topic of autism in workplaces. Created and curated by a team of undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University, the colourful panels are hard to miss.

Exhibitions to check out: The Autism Advantage
The exhibition at Guoco Tower basement 2. Image source: Ashley Tan

The hands-on exhibition allows participants to read about the experiences of individuals with autism in the workplace, experience (through a set of headphones) what sensory overload feels like in an office, as well as debunk common misconceptions about autism.

The team is made up of Shermaine Yeo, 22, Chloe Chu, 22, Shaun Tan, 24 and Shernyce Ariel Goh, 22.

Shermaine told The Pride: “It was heartening to see the turnout and growing interest of inclusive hiring among the media, businesses and public. We would like to thank everyone for showing such strong support for our exhibition and campaign thus far, and are grateful for this opportunity and platform to work on a cause we hold closely to our hearts.”

“We hope that more people can come by to learn more about autism as well as recognise and understand the business case for inclusive hiring.”

For more information, check out @theautismadvantage on Instagram or online!

Check out: Embrace! @ Yuhua

Another exhibition worth checking out will be unveiled at Yuhua Community Centre this Sunday afternoon (Feb 26).
Image source: Chio Architects

Another exhibition worth checking out will be unveiled at Yuhua Community Centre this Sunday afternoon (Feb 26) at 3pm.

Have you ever walked alongside aboveground MRT tracks and wondered if the drab pillars holding up the tracks could be used for other things? Well, at Yuhua, these spaces will be temporarily transformed to a heartland gallery showcasing artworks from artists and members of community on reused construction hoarding steel panels around eight pillars.

You can even take part in the community painting event that starts from 1pm!

Minister for Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment and MP for Yuhua, Ms Grace Fu will unveil the exhibition, titled Embrace!, which was also the winner at the Singapore Design Awards.

One of the eight artworks is a collaboration between Singapore Kindness Movement and Happiness initiative.
One of the eight artworks is a collaboration between Singapore Kindness Movement and Happiness initiative. Image source: Chio Architects

Chio Wen Tian, principal architect of the project, told The Pride: “I’m greatly appreciative of all eight collaborators of Embrace!, our community sponsor and the relevant supportive public agencies to turn this Singapore Design Awards project from an idea into reality in my neighbourhood.

“I hope that the inaugural launch of Embrace! @ Yuhua can spark the rejuvenation of underutilised spaces beneath MRT tracks in Singapore and turn them into heartland galleries that promotes a greater sense of community and ownership.”

Are we getting too woke?

Are we getting too woke?
Image source: Etsy, Epic Games

Books are a window into a world. Be it fiction or non-fiction, the author conveys his or her thoughts through the written word – often also reflecting society’s mores and values of the time when the book was published.

Can you imagine if Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was written in a modern context rather than the late 18th century? Although some passages are still very powerful – and oddly still accurate – in our modern context (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”), it would be silly to amend certain passages just because it may offend readers today.

So when I found out that Roald Dahl’s much-loved classics like Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (published in 1964) and The Twits (1979) were being rewritten to remove “offensive words such as ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’”, I was aghast. Gender neutral terms and new passages not written by Dahl were also added to ensure that they “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, explained the book publisher Puffin.

What nonsense is this? Are we so thin-skinned nowadays and are our children (and adults) so shallow that they cannot understand that context and nuance matter? Are we so easily offended by what we read that we must be coddled in case our feelings get hurt?

Even if words did offend, it can be used as a learning moment to explain that a) the author was writing his truth, b) you don’t have to agree with him on everything, and c) you can share your own thoughts and opinions without having to cancel others.

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Books entertain, but they also inform. Being pushed out of our intellectual, emotional and moralistic comfort zones is exactly why books can be so powerful in helping us grow.

And it’s not just books either.

Take the kerfuffle over the recently released Hogwarts Legacy video game, which has been drawing criticisms and threats of cancellation due to Harry Potter author J K Rowling’s views on LGBTQ+ and transgender issues.

Or even the public handwringing over the Winnie the Pooh horror slasher flick. (Although, I have to admit that as a parent who loves the Hundred Acre Wood and its residents, I am perturbed – or should I say “oh bothered”? – by the idea of a beloved childhood bear turning evil. Nevertheless, I can simply choose not to watch it if it ever gets shown in Singapore.)

It seems so silly to me for people to get upset over something that they can choose not to read, play or watch. Worse still if they insist that things be changed to fit their standards as if there is no room for discussion or disagreement.

We should learn to talk amicably first and wield the cancel culture stick later, and only if no other solution presents itself.

Abandoned pet numbers rising

Abandoned pet numbers rising
Rescued cats Mochi (left) and Kiyoshi. Image source: Mathilda Lye, Solomon Lim

Some people who should get the stick, however, are the increasing number of Singaporeans abandoning their pets.

Post pandemic, it seems that there are more pet owners who are giving up on taking care of their pets. Animal welfare groups told CNA that inflation and other factors like owners returning to the office for work have driven up pet abandonment numbers.

For example, the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) said it investigated 310 cases of pets being abandoned in 2022, up from 225 in 2021.

One young Singaporean recently spoke to The Pride over how she ended up adopting a cat that wandered into her home. The long-haired feline that suddenly appeared at her door didn’t seem like a stray as it was well groomed and friendly. Even though her father asked the neighbours and posted a lost-and-found notice on Facebook to ask if anyone in the neighbourhood lost a pet cat, no one came forward to claim it.

She is now caring for the cat, which the family has named Mochi.

I even recently took in a cat that was given up by its owner, after a cat rescuer told me that if no one came forward, she would have to let it take its chances in the wild.

Aside from the fact that pet abandonment is a crime, punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 and/or 12 months jail, we all have a moral responsibility to treat our pets humanely and with kindness.

Filial piety or financial liability?

Filial piety or financial liability?
Image source: BigStockphoto/ Sorapop

If there’s only one thing you took away from DPM and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s Budget announcement last week, then it should be this Budget 2023 calculator.

But another money issue that recently reared its head was a debate on parenthood – specifically this rather awkward question: Is it responsible for parents to count on their children as part of their financial retirement plan?

The argument goes like this: Children “owe” their parents for raising them while they are young, so therefore it is expected for the children to “pay them back” when they become adults and their parents become elderly.

But is that fair?

It sparked a flurry of forum letters arguing both sides of the case. For me, a Straits Times reader said it best when he wrote: “Someone who earns $200 a month and gives $2 to his parents is fulfilling an act of filial piety.”

It’s not the amount that counts, it’s the heart behind the giving.

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I believe most parents, even when they are elderly, would still want the best for their children. When I give my parents a sum of money every month, my mother would always ask me “are you sure you have enough for yourself?” before accepting it reluctantly.

And no, this isn’t the polite fighting-over-the-cheque thing that Asian families do when they go out for meals. It’s a genuine show of concern. She asks after me because she’s my mum. I show her care and concern (through money and other things) for the same reason.

Without sounding too maudlin, the older we get, the more we appreciate family, especially when our parents get older. Don’t wait till it’s too late to show them love, concern and respect.

But what if our parents were abusive? Or didn’t give us a good childhood? We didn’t ask to be born, as that line of argument goes. What if your elderly parent demands ungraciously that you take care of them like you’re fulfilling a debt to them – that you “owe” them for raising you?

There is no right answer to this. I can only give mine: Even if you might think that your parents don’t deserve kindness, think about how our own children watch what we do. If there is a cycle of negativity, someone should take the first step to break it.

Care for caregivers: SG Assist opens first caregiver care facility in Nee Soon South

More on families, last Saturday (Feb 18) local social enterprise SG Assist opened its first caregiver care facility in Nee Soon South that will connect caregivers with resources and programmes.

Founded in 2018, SG Assist’s mission is to empower caregivers with tech-enabled solutions to improve the quality of life for both caregivers and their loved ones. Today, the social enterprise has a volunteer app, over 6,000 neighbourhood volunteers and Active Aging Centres across the island as well as care concierge services, which offers caregivers advanced home monitoring technologies and affordable care navigation support in the comfort of their own homes.

SG Assist co-founder Adrian Tan told The Pride: “Preparing for caregiving can be a challenging and stressful experience, especially when it comes to managing the cost of care for our loved ones. Through our corporate partnership with (financial services company) Singlife, we hope to be able to make a positive impact on the lives of caregivers in Singapore.”

This littlest Lion Dance will warm your heart

@alfonzoisme Multi-racial lion dance troupe in Yishun! #fyp #fypsg #liondance #yishun ♬ See Tình (Remix) – Giây Phút Em Gặp Anh – Cukak & Hoàng Thuỳ Linh

Oh, and even though Chinese New Year is already over, we came across this really cute TikTok video of an impromptu multi-racial lion dance performance at an Yishun playground.

The kids might not be from a professional troupe, but there’s a certain joy in seeing children from all races playing together – regardless of the occasion!

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