By CHRISTINA CHIN
THE Penang Water Sports Recreation Centre was abuzz with laughter and cheer when a group of Special Scouts embarked on an unforgettable adventure there recently.
Organised by the Penang Cheshire Home, the Special Scouts Carnival held in conjunction with 100 years of Scouting in Malaysia, saw the special children doing everything their able-bodied counterparts normally did at such events.
The children spent the day canoeing, communicating via ham radio, playing station games, learning flower arrangements, acquiring firefighting skills, making sandwiches and even trying their hand at paintballing!
Thirteen-year-old Ng Phooi Ling said she had “a lot of fun” at the beach.
“I love the water. My favourites were canoeing and the paintball session where I got to shoot with a gun.
“I hope they will have more carnivals for us,” she said, adding that all her friends had a good time too.
Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai, who was present to launch the event, praised the participants for showing the “Scouting spirit”.
“Remember, you are all part of a worldwide movement with 28 million members in more than 150 countries,” he said, drawing a loud applause from the crowd.
In his speech, the home’s chairman Datuk Seri Khoo Keat Siew said the Scout Movement was for all young people, irrespective of creed, race and physical ability.
“As far back as 1920, the movement’s founder Lord Baden Powel had emphasised that Scouting is not only for the physically strong but also for the weak so that they can gain their strength and hope.
“The home started its Scout Movement in 2001 and recently organised the first Penang Cheshire Special Troop Camp in Cameron Highlands.
“Today’s event is a follow-up to that because the kids requested another outing that included canoeing as part of the activities,” he said.
The home’s Scouts coordinator Veronica Pau urged parents of children with special needs to allow them to participate in “normal activities”.
“Give them a chance to join society. These special children can be like everyone else if they receive proper training and guidance.
“Some of the activities may have to be improvised and adapted to their capabilities but other than that, disability should not be a hindrance to them.
“No one is perfect and every-one needs a little help. Each and everyone of us has some form of disability. For instance, those who wear spectacles need help with their vision too,” she said.
A total of 36 participants from the home and Penang Cerebral Palsy (Spastic) Children’s Association attended the event.