A Sharing by our National Champions on Integrating the Visually-Impaired into Society and the Workforce through Glow in The Dark (GITD)
Life is too short to worry and too long to wait. So get up and get going and celebrate each day of your life with hardcore energy as if there is no tomorrow.
It all started as a pro-bono consulting project for the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH). They wanted a business plan that could provide the visually handicapped with more employment opportunities.
Through this project, we learned that the visually handicapped in Singapore had limited employment opportunities which were mainly centred on low-skilled jobs. With the growth of the visually handicapped community each year, we wanted to create a business idea which could leverage on the community’s verbal communication skills and their life experiences.
This project eventually moved to Enactus NTU as we believe that Enactus is a great platform for making business sustainable, especially through the mentorship model and training workshops. In fact, Enactus allowed us to meet more people on campus who share our passion for social enterprises. These people took on the mission of GITD to make it a better solution for improving society’s well-being.
One of our greatest challenges was to convince the stakeholders (teachers, investors) to believe in the potential of GITD and the abilities of the visually handicapped community. Many held the view that the visually handicapped would be unable to conduct workshops well due to their inability to engage the audience through establishing eye contact.
As we worked with SAVH, we learned more about the community and found out that many of them were educated and qualified individuals who were not born blind.
I used to think that it is not possible for the Visually Handicapped to use digital devices like smartphones so it was a surprise when I found out that they can actually text and communicate with us online.
One morning, one of our beneficiaries sent us a motivational message in the WhatsApp group: “Life is too short to worry and too long to wait. So get up and get going and celebrate each day of your life with hardcore energy as if there is no tomorrow. Good Morning!”
It kick-started my day and inspired me to persevere for GITD. Subsequently, I found out that the beneficiary frequently wrote such messages to positively influence the people around him with his optimism and energy.
This understanding has helped us to look beyond their limitations and see great potential in them. Their strong resilience and positivity in life which can inspire and help many to be a better person.
The future of GITD
It has been an eye-opening experience on how a successful social enterprise model looks like. The experience has taught us so much about teamwork and how to manage projects. On top of that, we learnt public speaking skills as we conducted our training sessions for our beneficiaries. In addition, we honed our marketing skills as we searched for clients for the GITD workshops.
Through our training sessions, we saw their willingness to learn new skills to make a living and eagerness to make friends. Coupled by an increasing understanding of the difficulties that they face in society, we are now ever more determined to grow this business further so as to help people who are in need.
To date, we have conducted workshops at schools such as Dunman High School and Meridian Junior College and are currently reaching out to the corporate sector with companies such as Unilever engaging us.
— GITD Team, Enactus NTU / 02 September 2015
GITD aims to raise awareness on the capabilities of the visually-impaired in Singapore, and to overcome the stigma and discrimination associated with the condition, by employing them to run life skills workshops for youths. In the long term, GITD strives to champion the integration of the visually-impaired into society and the workforce.