There was a bustle of activities at the Stephen Riady Centre, U-Town, when the National University of Singapore’s Development Office (NUS DVO) team swung by with the YMCA Special Talents, Arts and Recreation Society (Y STARS), a group of young adults with intellectual disabilities.
Over the course of two days from 16th and 17th November 2018, the NUS DVO team partnered with the YMCA Y Arts Challenge, a platform to engage children and youths who are underprivileged, intellectually challenged or hearing impaired to hold an art exhibition over two days at NUS. The event was to help showcase the artistic talents of the Y STARS and to raise funds for them to buy art supplies and to support them in enrichment activities such as outings.
NUS DVO members had the chance to mingle with the Y STARS in an art jam session. Centred on the theme of ‘buildings and architecture’, the session saw the DVO team alongside 16 Y STARS beneficiaries painting various structures to the beat of music, with some even painting the buildings of U-Town.
“It feels great to give! Through the few hours I spent art jamming with the Y STARS, I got so much back in return – mainly the good old feeling of giving back. In addition, the tenacity and positive energy displayed by the Y STARS during the art jam session was inspiring to those present as they painted beautiful pieces,” said Mr Sam Tang, an NUS DVO Senior Manager.
During the event, the DVO team promoted over 90 pieces of art that were previously completed by the Y STARS. Utilising a variety of painting methods, the Y STARS’ many works were curated and presented as part of an art exhibition in the form of paintings, bookmarks and postcards. Additionally, the art pieces were placed up for purchase and auctioned off to help raise funds for the Y STARS. Associate Professor Iliana Magiati, Department of Psychology at NUS, bought a painting by Y STARS member, Ms Gabriella Allan because of its “colours and how bright and light it is”.
“I think it is great to share and showcase in the university setting, and in the community in general, art by people with disabilities. Many disabled people have artistic interests, passions or talents they pursue, or wish to pursue, as a hobby or a career. Disabled people have equal rights to appreciate and create art as people without disabilities. Equality and diversity enrich the Arts and provide new perspectives & experiences for everyone”, explained Assoc Prof Magiati.
The event ultimately raised $2,967 in total through the sale of many postcards and bookmarks, as well as the art auction which saw 40 paintings sold.
Ms Regina Aun, a parent of one of the Y STAR beneficiaries, hopes that the Y STARS will have the opportunity to have another collaborative art exhibition next year and is very grateful for the support the Y STARS has received from NUS DVO.
“Sales and all that, that is secondary, very, very secondary. It is more about the integration and the understanding to dispel the myths and fears people have of those with special needs,” said Ms Aun. “People might think ‘Oh are they crazy? Are they violent?’ People with special needs are not violent, they are just slow learners. We need to take away that stigma.”
“We are very lucky to have the YMCA staff and the very committed volunteers (from both YMCA and DVO). I think this is very crucial because when the people get involved, they become more passionate about it,” said Ms Aun.
You can do your bit for the Y STARS by donating or become a volunteer with the YMCA. Find out more on https://yhub.ymca.org.sg/. See more Y Stars activities and artworks on their Instagram account @ystars.sg.