Citizenship has always been an area that Microsoft holds close to its heart. Beyond the myriad number of programmes from software donations to reaching out to youth, Microsoft also actively encourages its employees to do their bit for the community. To kickstart the year of employee volunteering in Microsoft
Singapore
, a group of employees, together with their family and friends, went to the Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled for a day of interaction and fun.

Very often, the intellectually disabled are scorned for being unable to communicate effectively. We fail to understand the challenges they face, and never put in the effort to look at the world from their point of view. As part of the American Chamber of Commerce Corporate Community Day, Microsoft Singapore organized a half-day activity with the residents from Bishan Home to facilitate interaction with them as well as to take a peek into their lives. Our volunteers brought along some touchscreen devices as “companions” for the event.

After a series of icebreaker games, volunteers and residents were divided into small groups with the touchscreen devices. Together, they engaged in games on the tablets and even painted their very own virtual art pieces!

Residents and Microsoft employee, Darryn, drawing a plane together.

Through this activity, residents were empowered by technology to connect with others and express themselves through fun games as well as paintings. It was their first time getting in touch with touchscreen technology and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They were also able to unleash their undiscovered potential in the area of art.

One of the many amazing virtual art pieces by the residents and volunteers.

 

Wrapping up the day, not only were the residents treated to a day of fun, but the volunteers also left the home with a clearer awareness of how the intellectually disabled function and play. Khoo Sang Chin, Principal Field IT Manager, who attended the event with his wife and two children, said, “The visit to the Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled was a very fruitful experience for my family and me. Although what we did was just spending time, playing games, working on simple tablet activities and having lunch with them, we could tell how happy the residents were. We have also learnt and have a better understanding of their plight now.” Sang Chin’s family agreed that it was a very memorable activity and a good reminder to treasure their health and abilities.

Thinking toward the future, Sang Chin concluded, “We can definitely do much more for the less fortunate.”

It was indeed a meaningful activity with takeaways for both residents and volunteers, and we look forward to engaging our employees in more future volunteering events in the community.