Former school site to house services for young, old

A childcare centre, nursing home, dialysis centre, as well as an urban farm, will soon be built on the site of the former Henderson Secondary School, in what is touted as a creative way to boost interactions between the young and the old.

Children from the pre-school can also run around in the farming area and learn to appreciate nature, said Mr Victor Bay, chief executive of the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which will be operating the pre-school.

This will be the first integrated space for childcare, healthcare and urban farming, said the Singapore Land Authority, adding that it was a collaboration with the Early Childhood Development Agency, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

Plans for these facilities were announced yesterday by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee. He said: "These kinds of purposeful uses of old school sites enable some thoughtful and creative and innovative programming to allow the children, urban farmers, the local community and the seniors in the nursing homes to interact with one another and to find win-win solutions."

The two-storey pre-school, which can take in 250 children, will accept registrations early next year and start operations at the end of next year.

MOH said in a press statement that the nursing home and dialysis centre will help meet the demand for eldercare and dialysis services within the neighbourhood, adding that co-location of inter-generational and therapeutic spaces under one roof will contribute to the quality of care for seniors.

As for the farming area, there will be a tender based on price and quality at the end of next month, Mr Lee said, adding: "One key criterion is that the site is used for new technologies in urban farming and that they involve local communities, including the pre-schools."

Speaking at the opening of a pre-school in Bishan North yesterday, Mr Lee said outdoor learning such as urban farming will help develop "a generation of young children who are resilient, who enjoy the outdoors, who value and appreciate nature and by extension have a greater appreciation for things beyond self".

The pre-school in Henderson will add to nine existing large childcare centres run by various anchor operators. Over the next five years, 40,000 more pre-school places are expected to be added.

Housewife Saira Banu, 29, who has a two-year-old daughter, looks forward to the new pre-school. "Children will get to learn in the outdoors. The seniors, too, will get to have fun with the kids. It sounds like a great inter-generational bonding idea."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2018, with the headline 'Former school site to house services for young, old'. Print Edition | Subscribe