Children with special needs chip in to discuss Singapore's future

Some 150 special needs children and their caregivers visited The Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Wednesday (Feb 3), which was launched by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
Some 150 special needs children and their caregivers visited The Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Wednesday (Feb 3), which was launched by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Some 150 special needs children and their caregivers visited The Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Wednesday (Feb 3).
Some 150 special needs children and their caregivers visited The Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Wednesday (Feb 3).ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Some 150 special needs children and their caregivers visited The Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Wednesday (Feb 3).
Some 150 special needs children and their caregivers visited The Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Wednesday (Feb 3).ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Invisible shields to defend the country, air-conditioned classrooms and an ostrich farm in Singapore. These are some of the ideas, hopes and aspirations of about 150 children with special needs and their caregivers who visited The Future Of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay on Wednesday (Feb 3).

These children, who are from 20 special needs schools and Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), are part of an outreach programme that hopes to gather their ideas for Singapore's future.

The programme, funded by Temasek Cares, was launched by President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Wednesday.

It will benefit more than 6,000 children with special needs and their caregivers, who will be taken on organised visits until the end of the exhibition on March 8.

"For us to have a successful future, it has to be for all Singaporeans. Nobody should be left behind," President Tan said. "A future Singapore has to be an inclusive Singapore. It has to cater for everyone - whatever be your needs, whatever be your aspirations, it has to be a place in Singapore."

He added: "I think all of us need to work more towards this aim. There is always something which all of us can do... for a better Singapore which will look after everyone."

Jordan Tan Tian Seng from Grace Orchard School was one of the students who toured the exhibition as part of the programme.

The 16-year-old, who was there for the first time, said: "My wishes for the future. Number one, to expand Singapore's land area because it is overcrowded. Number two, invisible shields to protect Singapore from attacks.

"Number three, air-conditioned classrooms because Singapore is very hot."

Jeslyn Sim, 15, from the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Katong School, said: "I feel very excited. I hope that Singapore will continue to be peaceful and a happy home for all."

On her personal aspirations, she said: "I want to be a teacher when I grow up because I can teach people and take care of them."

xueqiang@sph.com.sg