Lining the underground passageway linking Esplanade to the MRT station is a collection of photographs, personal artefacts and video stories. This is Finding What’s Next, an exhibition put together by photojournalist Bob Lee to highlight the challenges faced by special needs youth and their families.
Finding What’s Next traces the personal stories of 12 special needs individuals and their caregivers. It highlights the struggles which special needs children face as once they turn 18 years old and have to leave the safety of special education schools.
Many families with autistic children liken the process to falling off a cliff; caregivers are left on their own with little support and the children need to find a way to assimilate into the community.
Stories of Individual Lives
The exhibition is broken up into various parts, each telling the story of an individual. They provide an insight into their personal lives and the lives of their caregivers, families and parents.
In Resilience, the story of 24-year-old Amit is told. He had a misunderstanding years ago where he ended up being labelled a “public nuisance”, forcing his mum to stop work to take care of him. However, he has since bounced back from that incident and found a job at Edible Garden City where he works as an urban farmer.
Another story entitled Purpose tells of Jun Yi, 26, who uses his drawing skills as a channel of communication. He has found a way to share his talents through The Animal Project, a company that employs autistic adults. His designs are used on merchandise which is sold at The Art Faculty at Enabling Village and at Singapore Zoo.
The various stories highlight each special needs person as an individual. It also sheds light on the needs and fears of their parents and families – many have to consider what happen in the future once they are no longer around to act as caregivers.
Visiting the Finding What’s Next Exhibition
On the whole, the meaningful exhibition challenges all of us – both as a society and as individuals – to be more caring and accepting of those with special needs.
Pay a visit to Finding What’s Next at the Esplanade Tunnel from now till 4 July 2021. Visit the exhibition website here.