SINGAPORE: True to its theme of Onward As One, this year's National Day Parade (NDP) promises that everyone has a part to play, regardless of abilities.
An educator who was born deaf will play a big role in the parade's grand finale, while a dancer with Down syndrome will take centre stage in the film segment.
The spectacle aims to be accessible to all walks of life, with segments showcasing the diversity and dreams of Singaporeans.
For 42-year-old Charlene Batchelor, a special education teacher, being part of the celebrations is an honour she said she would cherish forever.
“I get to see the lively atmosphere of the audience and performers, with national pride,” she said through sign language.
Ms Batchelor, who was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth, signs the National Anthem and Pledge during the parade’s finale.
She also performs in Film Three: Inspiration. The segment features the aspirations of Singaporeans in hopes that their stories will inspire others to overcome obstacles and contribute to the nation in their own ways.
“People with hearing loss like me can make meaningful contributions to society and impact the lives of others positively,” Ms Batchelor told CNA.
“I hope for Singapore to stay united and continue as a strong, caring and inclusive country, regardless of our race, religion, language or disability.”
Another performer is dancer Megan Tang.
Born with Down syndrome, the 17-year-old has overcome many challenges to pursue her love for dancing.
She discovered her passion when she was just three years old, and used to dance along to children’s programmes such as Barney and Hi-5.
She enjoys hip hop, Latin and Asian cultural dance genres, saying the art form helps her understand her body movements better and express her feelings.
“I feel happy, relaxed and calm when I dance,” Megan said.
She said she loves watching the parade every year from home, and singing along to the Kit Chan classic Home.
This year, however, she is part of the parade, performing in Film Two: Passion, which showcases Singaporeans in their relentless pursuit of their dreams and passion.
“I am happy, proud and excited (to be part of the NDP). On the big screen it shows (me) dancing. There are lights twinkling all over the place at the Padang,” she said.
However, learning certain dances was not an easy feat for Megan due to her condition.
“Some of the dance moves are fast and challenging, and I couldn’t catch the tempo. It was very difficult and I needed more encouragement to not give up,” she said.
Her mother Jasmine Lai said it was a proud moment to see her child on the national stage.
“This feeling is very strong for us because we have seen what Megan has gone through in the past. There were times she has told us that she just wanted to give up and didn’t want to try any more.
“The moment we saw her on the screen, we thought that Megan has really transformed into a young lady. It was also at this moment we felt that dancing is the right choice for her to pursue.”
After starring on the national stage, Megan hopes to achieve her dreams of becoming a dance instructor and dancing on a global stage.
Mdm Lai said that she hopes people will understand Megan and others like her through the parade and her performance.
“I feel that people will understand Megan is actually like everyone else and she is able to pursue her dreams with the determination that she has. She can tell her story in her own way, and be able to inspire others.”
Source: Channel NewsAsia © Mediacorp Pte Ltd. All rights reserved