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Dancing with Minds on her mind

  Saturday, 14 l 08 l 2010 Source:  The Straits Times   
By: Judith Tan

Solo dance recital raises $28,000 for the intellectually disabled

dance for charityAFTER 14 years of learning the Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam, student Saradha Anantharaman decided to showcase it as a dedication to charity.

The 19-year-old’s one-night recital at the Jubilee Hall at Raffles Hotel on July 31 raised about $28,000 for the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds).

Said Ms Saradha: “Having participated in community service projects in school made me realise that the greatest barrier to anyone achieving fulfilment and happiness is a lack of physical or emotional resources. The intellectually disabled often face challenges in these areas.”

The undergraduate, who started her first year at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine last week, picked Minds after seeing its website “simply for those reasons”.

Minds is one of the oldest and largest non-governmental organisations catering to the needs of the intellectually disabled in Singapore.

Started in 1962, it now runs four special schools, three employment development centres, three training and development centres, two homes and one hostel for 2,400 intellectually disabled adults  and children.

Mr Keh Eng Song, chief executive of Minds, told The Straits Times that Ms Saradha’s hard work and sacrifices to prepare for the dance performance were commendable for “a young girl who has just completed her A-level examinations”.

“Such a selfless gesture is a shining example for our youth. The donations collected will go towards supporting Minds’ public education programme so that persons with intellectual disability are better understood and accepted in the community,” he said.

During an eight-month break following her A-level examinations, Ms Saradha wanted to brush up on her skills in Indian classical dance and to continue the community service projects that she was involved in before.

“That was when the idea of working towards a solo dance performance to raise funds was born,” she said.

With the support of her parents – Professor V. Anantharaman, an emergency medicine doctor with the Singapore General Hospital, and Professor A. Vathsala, who heads the National University Hospital’s nephrology division under its University Medicine Cluster – she spent three months training in Chennai under dance guru Sri Vijay Madhavan.

The training culminated in her one-night performance, entitled Natya Arpanam, which means “dedication
through dance”.

The recital comprised seven items and was attended by President S R Nathan.

“My hope is that this performance can highlight the work of Minds in improving the lives of these individuals. I also hope that more young people are inspired to use their talent to help others in the community,” she said.

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