14-year-old bowler and performer wins Goh Chok Tong Enable Award
Drumming, painting, drawing, bowling, sand art - you name it, he does it all. And he does it well.
Chalmers Wong, 14, was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism when he was 18 months old. Yesterday, he was one of 13 individuals with disabilities who received the Goh Chok Tong Enable Awards, which recognises the exceptional achievements and potential of the recipients in their respective fields.
There are two categories, the UBS Achievement and the UBS Promise, which Chalmers bagged. The former comes with a $10,000 cash award and the latter, $5,000.
On how they will be using the prize money, his mother, Ms Magdalene Ong told The New Paper: "I intend to help Chalmers polish his art and bowling skills, and start an online business for him, selling gifts, home decor and clothes made from his paintings."
She added: "This is so that he has a means of living in the future.
"It's very difficult for children like to him to get employment."
Chalmers' journey has been an emotional roller-coaster for him and his mother.
Ms Ong, 48, said: "It is very challenging to bring him out to movies or even on the train. He likes to sit very near to people. Once, this auntie said very loudly that Chalmers had poor upbringing."
But Chalmers is now thriving and has a multitude of talents, with bowling being his forte. He has won multiple competitions, including the Singapore National Para Games in 2016 and 2018.
A natural-born performer, Chalmers has also played the drums and done sand-art on stage at major events.
Said Ms Ong: "I'm definitely very happy when I see him on stage or winning medals... He gets very happy and likes it most when people applaud him."
Ms Ong hopes the award will reduce social stigma and inspire other special-needs families.
"Autism is not a sickness. It's just a way of life for them. They're just wired in a different way," she concluded.
Mr Timothy Lee, 20, is an Achievement Award winner. An actor with Down Syndrome, he plays a lead character named Handsome in the Channel 5 television series Kin.
Mr Lee said: "I feel very happy when people call me 'Handsome'."