Class Actors

It isn't  every day that celebrities come to your school, clean your sports room and sit in your class baking brownies with you.

So it was no surprise that the students of APSN (Association For Persons With Special Needs) Katong School were ecstatic when local TV stars Yvonne Lim, Michelle Chia, Jeanette Aw and Lee Teng visited their campus on Tuesday.

When they were introduced, the students who were sitting on the floor got on their knees to get a better look, and cheered loudly with giant smiles.

The MediaCorp artistes were there as part of an initiative by Channel U and its info-ed programme Stars For A Cause 3 to spend time with the students and raise awareness about the school for people with mild intellectual disability.

On the show, which is airing on Thursdays at 8pm, celebrities spend a week helping out the underprivileged in various parts of the world.

Their visit to Katong School will also be telecast in an upcoming episode.

Lee, Lim and several volunteers from the public cleaned the sports room before heading to a Home Economics class to bake brownies with the students.

Meanwhile, Chia painted flowers at a Chinese paintbrush lesson and Aw went hip-hop dancing with another class.

When one girl was too shy to dance next to Aw, another sidled up confidently and showed Aw the moves.

The students might have appeared all serious and intent during class, but when The New Paper pulled a few of them aside for an interview, their youthful enthusiasm emerged.

They fell over themselves gushing about how excited they were seeing the celebs because "the girls are pretty and the guy is cool".

Gurung Sunandi, 12, said: "I felt so shy when I met them in person. I'm going to Facebook this and my parents and friends will be so surprised I met them."

Students take pride

In a separate interview, the artistes told The New Paper they were very impressed with the school's curriculum and facilities, which included an occupational therapy room, a mock-up supermarket and even a hotel room.

Added Lim, 35: "The students take pride in their work, like, they take it seriously if the brownie doesn't puff up properly. They work hard for excellence...

"These students may have a slightly lower IQ but they are capable of living a life like ours. They just need special guidance and patience."

English teacher Miss Swari Govind, 25, hopes the school's episode in Stars For A Cause will raise awareness of the school and what it does.

Maths teacher Mrs Stella Ho, 45, added: "The younger students are not aware of the stigma attached to attending a special needs school, but the older students are...

"I tell them our society is based on meritocracy.

"They should study hard and upgrade themselves. If they can do it, they will be able to hold a position in society regardless which school they went to."


This article was first published in The New Paper.