More disability-inclusive gyms in the pipeline

Minister Grace Fu, with Wheelchair Basketball Association members, giving the sport a shot. With improved access to public facilities, "everyone can participate more fully in sports and the arts", she said.
Minister Grace Fu, with Wheelchair Basketball Association members, giving the sport a shot. With improved access to public facilities, "everyone can participate more fully in sports and the arts", she said.PHOTO: MARCUS TAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Gyms with equipment for both the able-bodied and people with disabilities will be set up at government-run sports centres in Bedok, Jurong West, Tampines and Toa Payoh.

These disability-inclusive gyms at ActiveSG sports centres are expected to be ready by next year.

The move, announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in Parliament yesterday, is part of the Government's Disability Sports Master Plan, to encourage more people with disabilities to pick up sports.

Ms Fu was responding to Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC), who noted that government support was strong for para-athletes like swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, who won two golds at the Paralympic Games last year.

Dr Lim, speaking during the debate on the ministry's budget, hoped non-competitive people will also get "the help and push needed to participate in sports and other cultural activities, to give persons with disabilities the opportunity to lead an active and enriching life".

ActiveSG runs only one disability-inclusive gym now. It is at the Enabling Village, a community space in Redhill where people with disabilities can shop, eat, access services and attend training.

News of the additional gyms was welcomed by telemarketer Vinayagan Mohan, 29, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

He said: "I've been looking for a gym to train and build my muscles. Exercising in gyms would help people with disabilities to maintain their physical strength, too."

People with special needs will also receive more attention at museums. Ms Fu said that staff, docents and volunteers will get more training this year on ways to engage them.

More than 100 museum staff members and docents have gone for introductory training, which will be extended to everyone.

Those who engage directly with special-needs visitors will attend in-depth workshops, said the National Heritage Board.

Ms Fu said: "With these developments, everyone can participate more fully in sports and the arts."

Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'More disability-inclusive gyms in the pipeline'. Print Edition | Subscribe