Ensure vulnerable, disadvantaged can maximise potential to have truly inclusive society: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob, with Autism Resource Centre president Denise Phua (far left) and Autism Association chairman Ho Swee Huat, watching Mr Davin Yeap, 30, operate a laser cutting machine on Jan 29, 2020. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - It is important to ensure that 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 on Wednesday afternoon (Jan 29).

She had visited the Eden Centre for Adults in Clementi in the morning.

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 vocation training skills.

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

"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," said Madam Halimah, who noted that it is difficult to create a one-size-fits-all programme for each person who has autism, as they are affected differently.

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 has 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," added Madam Halimah, who also met the centre's coaches and staff who work closely with the adults with autism.

In 2019, the President also visited St Andrew's Autism School, Awwa Early Intervention Centre, Metta School and Thye Hua Kwan Home for Disabled, among others.

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 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.

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