Ensure the vulnerable can maximise their potential: President Halimah Yacob

President Halimah Yacob, Autism Association chairman Ho Swee Huat and Autism Resource Centre president Denise Phua, who is also an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, observing Mr Davin Yeap operate a laser cutting machine at the Eden Centre for Adults in Clemen
President Halimah Yacob, Autism Association chairman Ho Swee Huat and Autism Resource Centre president Denise Phua, who is also an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, observing Mr Davin Yeap operate a laser cutting machine at the Eden Centre for Adults in Clementi yesterday.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

It is important to ensure the vulnerable and disadvantaged are given the opportunities to maximise their potential in order to have a truly inclusive society, said President Halimah Yacob in a Facebook post yesterday.

She had visited the Eden Centre for Adults in Clementi earlier in the day.

The centre caters to adults with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and provides training and support in aspects such as adaptive living, health and fitness, community living and vocational training skills.

It also hopes to achieve quality and long-term outcomes for adults with autism and their families.

Madam Halimah, who noted that it is difficult to create a one-size-fits-all programme for each person who has autism as everyone is affected differently, said: "I am glad to see that Eden Centre has a suite of social, recreational and work-related activities that supports individualised needs in an autism-friendly environment."

During her visit, she met several people with autism who were carrying out their activities.

"While the severity of their ASD means that most are unable to secure sustainable employment, I am heartened to see a few of them still take part in vocational projects, such as laser cutting and leather stitching, at their own pace," said Madam Halimah.

She received a personalised woodcraft tag with her name laser-engraved onto it from Mr Davin Yeap, 30, who had been learning to operate a laser cutting machine for more than a month.

She also met Mr Joshua Ng, 23, who was doing leather stitching, and Mr James Khor, 32, who was chopping onions as part of learning to cook for himself independently.

 
 
 

"I hope to see more organisations and individuals play their part to support such individuals and seek ways to empower them to lead meaningful and dignified lives," said Madam Halimah, who also met the centre's coaches and staff who work closely with the adults with autism.

The President also visited St Andrew's Autism School, Awwa Early Intervention Centre, Metta School and Thye Hua Kwan Home for Disabled among others last year. These organisations help those with various disabilities or special needs.

The President's Challenge 2020, an annual fund-raiser for the less fortunate, will focus on helping people with disabilities.

Madam Halimah had said during the announcement of the theme of President's Challenge 2020 that it was important to help those with disabilities gain self-confidence, self-esteem and, particularly, a sense of independence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2020, with the headline 'Ensure the vulnerable can maximise their potential: President'. Subscribe