Day activity centre opens for adults with special needs

Ms Kwan Shi En (at right) with her parents, Mr Kwan Boon and Madam Guo Cai Zhu, at the new centre. Since she started attending lessons there, Ms Kwan has made friends and interacts often with her parents. Minister of State for Social and Family Devel
Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan (centre, in white) in the room for music learning at the new day activity centre by the Touch Centre for Independent Living in Bukit Merah Central. It has 20 clients now, three of whom are deaf with intellectual disabilities.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
Ms Kwan Shi En (at right) with her parents, Mr Kwan Boon and Madam Guo Cai Zhu, at the new centre. Since she started attending lessons there, Ms Kwan has made friends and interacts often with her parents. Minister of State for Social and Family Devel
Ms Kwan Shi En (at right) with her parents, Mr Kwan Boon and Madam Guo Cai Zhu, at the new centre. Since she started attending lessons there, Ms Kwan has made friends and interacts often with her parents. ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG

Centre in Bukit Merah teaches those above 18 skills for independent living and work

After graduating in 2011 from Lighthouse School, a special education school, Ms Kwan Shi En, 26, had no job and little to engage her.

Born with two rare conditions - Treacher Collins syndrome and Nager syndrome, which cause deformities of the ears, chin and eyes - she needed special care.

The Touch Centre for Independent Living's first day activity centre in Ubi Avenue 1 had difficulty catering to her hearing condition.

It was also too far from her home in Tanglin Halt.

But there is now a new day activity centre in Bukit Merah Central, which was officially launched yesterday.

The centre, which is just 15 minutes from her home by bus, caters to those above 18 with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities and hearing impairment.

It is the second day activity centre by Touch Community Services, a voluntary welfare organisation.

Her father Kwan Boon, 70, said in Mandarin: "For many years, it was difficult finding a place to care for her."

The new centre, which started operating on April 1, was set up to meet the demand for a day activity centre for people with special needs in the western part of Singapore.

It taps the expertise of Touch Silent Club, which has served the deaf community for the past 25 years.

The centre can serve a maximum of 42 adults, and currently has 20 clients, three of whom are deaf with intellectual disabilities.

Clients use touchscreen devices to learn how to live independently, as well as develop social skills by interacting with teachers and other clients in class.

Those who are higher functioning and suitable for employment will be equipped with work-related skills and assigned a job.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan was guest of honour at the launch.

"The Government welcomes and encourages such efforts to integrate persons with disabilities into the community through serving and helping others in need," said Mr Tan of initiatives like the one by Touch.

After attending two-hour lessons from Monday to Thursday for about three months, Ms Kwan has made friends and now interacts often with her parents.

Mr Kwan said: "I am very glad that Shi En is now learning new skills and making new friends."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2018, with the headline 'Day activity centre opens for adults with special needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe