Speech by President Halimah Yacob at the YMCA Giving Gala

Mr Leslie Wong, President of YMCA of Singapore

Ms Cynthia Tan, Chairman, YMCA Giving Gala 2018

Mr Steve Loh, General Secretary & CEO of YMCA of Singapore

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


A very good evening to all of you. Tonight, we have come together to celebrate the talents and capabilities of persons with special needs. I am happy to be a part of this meaningful cause.

Before the start of the Gala Dinner, I enjoyed a short tour of the art and photo exhibition, which showcases the impressive talents of our friends with special needs. There are artworks created by the YMCA’s Y STARS arts group, as well as photographs taken by Y Photo Club participants from the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN). I also tasted some delicious cookies specially baked by the beneficiaries from the APSN Centre For Adults.

I am glad that we have given our friends with special needs an opportunity to express themselves.  They may have special needs, but they also have special talents and abilities.  Among them Yan from YMCA’s Y-STARS arts group for persons with special needs. When Yan first joined, he was quiet and reserved when interacting with strangers. However, through art, perseverance and the unwavering support of YMCA’s staff and volunteers, Yan has become a very sociable person today. Nowadays, he would often take the initiative to smile at those around him, and use art to express himself.  

Beyond this platform, YMCA provides training for persons with special needs so that they are able to better integrate into society and make meaningful contributions. YMCA also leads by example in employing some of them as staff.

We can do more to care for those in need within our communities. To this end, I am glad that YMCA has pledged their commitment to the Singapore Cares (SG Cares) movement, which encourages everyone to build a caring society together. Every small gesture of kindness makes a big impact on someone else’s life.

In building a caring society, corporate organisations are also important stakeholders. They can forge a stronger culture of caring and help deepen this sense of social responsibility among their employees. YMCA recognises this, and connects companies as well as individual volunteers with beneficiaries from over 30 Social Service Organisations through its Community Service Programmes.

YMCA’s effort exemplifies the SG Cares spirit of celebrating and bringing out the best in each of us, regardless of our backgrounds or abilities. This is a movement that every Singaporean has a part to play.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have taken the time to be here tonight. Your support will go a long way in building a more caring and inclusive society; a place where Singaporeans of all needs and abilities can call home. Let us all work together and make this vision a reality.

Thank you, and have a great evening.