The disability inclusion movement that began four years ago at Hong Lim Park crossed a major milestone in 2016, as more than 10,000 people joined the Purple Parade, clad in purple and walking together to show support for those with special needs.

The Purple Parade is a movement that champions equal access to education, jobs, transport and social networks for people with disabilities and special needs. In 2015, 7,000 attended the event.

Photo of a Purple Parade contingent marching. The participants are dressed in Pac-Man costumes.

A Purple Parade contingent marches towards the concert stage.

Photo of a drummer performing on stage as part of the Down Syndrome Association Drum Prodigy Ensemble

The star of the Down Syndrome Association Drum Prodigy Ensemble (Facebook/The Purple Parade)

Photo of the Team Singapore contingent rolling off the stage in their wheelchairs

Team Singapore marches on the Purple Parade stage (Facebook/The Purple Parade)

Held this year at Suntec City for the first time, the event was at its most visible in its four years of running, with participants packing the Raffle Boulevard atrium all the way to the Fountain of Wealth circus.

Photo of a man dressed in a purple Native Indian chief headdress

The Purple Parade is a good place to spot Singaporean creativity (Facebook/The Purple Parade)

Carnival booths lining Temasek Boulevard provided numerous distractions to passers-by and participants alike, offering games and event-exclusive merchandise to raise funds for various special-needs charities. Shoppers wearing shades of lavender and mauve could also be seen thronging the mall, as retailers offered discounts to anyone walking in while dressed in purple.

Photo of volunteers at the Tomo Izakaya stall at the Purple Parade carnival. The stall is selling purple sushi,

Tomo Izakaya tempts the hungry crowd with their purple sushi (Facebook/The Purple Parade)

The focal point of the parade was the concert stage next to the Fountain of Wealth. From the afternoon till sunset, the stage showcased various inclusive acts: The Purple Symphony, Onwheels Dance Group, ExtraOrdinary Horizons, Redeafination, and talents from various mainstream as well as special schools. As the sun set, the purple-lit landmarks of the Marina Bay area, such as the Singapore Flyer and Millenia Tower, providing a remarkable backdrop as the festivities wound down.

Photo of a group rehearsing for the Purple Parade stage performance

Performance groups do energetic rehearsals at the sidelines before stepping onto the Purple Parade stage. (Facebook/The Purple Parade)

Mr Quek Ling Kiong of the Purple Symphony encouraging the audience to clap along. Wan Wai Yee, the visually impaired lead singer for the item, is in the background.

Mr Quek Ling Kiong of the Purple Symphony encouraging the audience to clap along. Wan Wai Yee, the visually impaired lead singer for the item, is in the background.

Valerie Chan, 19, a participant from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said, “I volunteer regularly to broaden my social circle and really enjoy talking to people to understand their special needs. I think over the years, Singaporeans are more open to inclusion but more work needs to be done to further raise awareness as people won’t understand and accept if they are not aware.”

Photo of crowds pushing giant inflatables into the air

Crowds push giant inflatables into the air as the Purple Parade draws to a close (Facebook/The Purple Parade)

Desmond Tay, 45, who was part of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore’s contingent, said,“I’ve been attending the parade since it started. The people’s spirit has definitely grown stronger, like how Singaporeans’ attitude towards us has improved.”

Standing on stage with the Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was the guest of honour, offered shared his vision for advancing disability inclusion in Singapore. “The next challenge is employment: people with special needs, special abilities in the workforce.” He said more employers have to step up to employ the young men and women who leave special schools.