SPD award affirms youth's talent

Yu Xiang performing at an event

NUS student Sim Yu Xiang has not allowed his disability due to Duchenne's muscular dystrophy dampen his passion for music. The first-year Sociology undergraduate's pursuit of musical excellence received affirmation recently when he was selected as one of three recipients of the SPD Youth Aspiration Award (YAA). He was presented with the prize on 31 January at a ceremony graced by Guest-of-Honour, Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministries of Education and Manpower.

The Award of $5,000 encourages youths in secondary schools and universities with physical disabilities to pursue their interests in visual or performing arts, sports and community service. Contenders have to undergo an interview session as well as a short performance or portfolio assessment. The YAA furthers SPD's goal of working in partnership with people of disabilities to develop their potential to the fullest so that they can be self-reliant and independent.

"I am encouraged that the YAA recognises the importance of student achievements, outside of the academic environment, said Yu Xiang.

At the age of 14, Yu Xiang started writing lyrics and keeping in touch with an online community who shared his love for music.  Later, he joined the Temasek Polytechnic Chorale when he studied at the Polytechnic. Together with choir conductor Mr Darius Lim, Yu Xiang and his team won the National A Capella Championships in 2012. The success further fuelled his desire to excel in music.

With the Award money, Yu Xiang intends to sign up for vocal training lessons and purchase high-quality recording equipment, so that he can bring his singing up another notch. He aspires to make his music a platform for communicating key messages to highlight the plights of the socially under-represented community, including people with special needs and victims of child abuse.