Sherry Soon learned about the Caring SG Commuters movement through the “May I have a seat please” sticker initiative, which was launched by the Caring SG Commuters Committee to help people with invisible conditions get a seat on the public transport.
This is an initiative close to her heart, as Sherry was diagnosed with vasculitis, a lifelong autoimmune disease, and had faced challenges when travelling on public transport.
To help those with autoimmune diseases and to help others to better understand their struggles, she founded Autoimmune Diseases SG, a support group sharing information about autoimmune diseases, and Be Kind SG, a ground-up movement aiming to create a kinder and more inclusive society.
Culture is built from the ground-up
As an advocate for inclusivity, she had participated in the ‘Be That Special Someone Today’ webinar in December 2020. Through the discussions facilitated by the Caring SG Commuters Committee, she learned that every commuter has a role and responsibility in creating a caring public transport experience for all.
The webinar also emphasised on the importance of being caring and gracious during interactions with fellow commuters.
“When someone gives us a seat, we can appreciate the gesture by giving a warm smile and thanking the person,” she shared. “… if someone bumped into us on the train or bus, […] we should not take offence, but to instead be gracious and forgive,” Sherry told us.
Sherry recounted a heart-warming encounter with a fellow commuter that took place a few years ago, which she still remembers fondly. While travelling, the commuter was drawing portraits of other commuters on the MRT. Out of curiosity, Sherry struck a conversation with him, which ended with other commuters joining in their conversation. Before alighting, he quickly sketched a portrait of her – something that Sherry still treasures till this day.
Sherry’s portrait, drawn by a fellow commuter (Source: Sherry Soon)
Becoming a Caring Commuter Champion
Motivated by the webinar and inspired to enact change, Sherry participated in an online training session conducted by SG Enable and the Caring SG Commuters Committee to get certified as a Caring Commuter Champion.
“I wanted to play my part in making the commute a safe and pleasant experience. Signing up as a Champion would allow me to be more aware about others’ needs and learn about the appropriate ways of approaching someone who might be in need,” Sherry explained.
Sherry attending the Champion training online with other volunteers (Photo: LTA)
Through the session, Sherry gained practical tips on how to assist persons with disabilities on the public transport. For example, she learned the appropriate etiquette to assist commuters with visual impairment, which includes guiding them via the elbow, and refraining from touching their cane or guide dog. She also learned the need to be alert and observant when assessing if a fellow commuter requires help.
Additionally, she learned the importance of asking before assisting another commuter, which is crucial in respecting fellow commuters’ boundaries.
Since the training session, Sherry shared that she has offered and given up her seat to elderly commuters, as well as children with special needs. She has also extended help to commuters who had trouble finding their way.
“Everyone would like a kinder, more gracious and inclusive society, and that has to start with individuals like ourselves.”
About the Caring Commuter Champion
The Caring Commuter Champion is an initiative by the Caring SG Commuters Committee, which aims to educate volunteers about the possible challenges faced by commuters like the elderly, families with young children, and people with mobility needs.
Volunteers are encouraged to step in to help by following the 3As framework of Assess, Ask, then Assist.
Sign up to be a Caring Commuter Champion here!