'Safe environment' for play at early intervention centre

Since NTUC First Campus' My First Skool and the Awwa Early Intervention Centre started operations in Fernvale Link in January and May respectively, their children have had organised play sessions together. They also celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri to
The Awwa Early Intervention Centre in Fernvale has a water fountain, ball pits and a large slide of about 4m in height, similar to play facilities found in places such as public parks and shopping centres. This gives the children a safe environment to play in and learn.PHOTO: MARCUS TAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

An intervention centre for special needs children in Sengkang has a water fountain, ball pits and a large slide of about 4m in height.

"All these have been built to be very similar to (play facilities) found in the community, parks and shopping centres - and we have a reason for doing this," said Ms Tan Peng Chian, assistant director for education and development at charity Awwa.

The Awwa Early Intervention Centre in Fernvale Link is a two-storey standalone building with a floor area of 1,422 sq m, making it the largest of 22 Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (Eipic) centres here. It can serve 300 children.

Awwa has two other Eipic centres, in Kim Keat and Hougang. Such centres provide therapy and educational support services for infants and young children, aged up to six years, who have special needs.

Said Ms Tan: "Children with developmental challenges often find it difficult to access play areas... They may have physical disabilities or have difficulty in regulating their emotions - they may be too anxious or fearful... or their social behaviour may make others find it difficult to accept them."

 

Awwa wanted to offer them a "safe environment" to play in, learn and practise using such play areas, she said. "Having a large centre has its benefits. With economies of scale, we can build more extensive facilities," she added.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who officiated the opening of the centre yesterday, said it was timely as Health Ministry figures released last year show that 4,000 children were diagnosed with developmental delays in 2015, up from 2,500 in 2010.

Awwa's three Eipic centres have about 800 places in total and currently serve about 540 children.

Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2017, with the headline ''Safe environment' for play at early intervention centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe