New $25 million initiative to help people with disabilities, boost public education efforts

(From left) Tote Board chairman Moses Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, SG Enable Inclusion Champion Alister Ong and National Council of Social Service president Anita Fam. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - A new $25 million initiative with the dual aim of supporting projects that help people with disabilities and funding public education for a more inclusive society was launched on Friday (Dec 18).

The new Enabling Lives Initiative (ELI) - a partnership between SG Enable and the Tote Board - will run from this year to 2024, taking over the previous Tote Board Enabling Lives Initiative that ran for five years from 2015.

Under the new initiative, the Tote Board has committed $20 million to the ELI Grant that will support initiatives on the ground and $5 million for public education.

Care & Share Movement, led by the Community Chest, has also committed $1.196 million to co-fund public education efforts.

The Friday launch at the Enabling Village, a community space for people with disabilities at Lengkok Bahru, was attended by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli.

Mr Masagos said the ELI is another milestone in Singapore's endeavour to build a caring and inclusive society.

He said: "It takes more than just the efforts of the disability sector to realise this vision. Everyone has a part to play.

"By sharing a common goal, we can rally a diverse community of partners - each with their own strengths and resources - to come together, and create impactful solutions to foster stronger inclusiveness."

The ELI Grant will be open for applications in April 2021 and support projects across the following three focus areas: living independently, realising potentials and connecting communities.

It aims to fund projects that will create scalable and impactful innovations for people with disabilities and bring about better outcomes for them.

The previous Tote Board ELI Grant supported more than 40 such projects with more than $16 million in funding between 2015 and 2020. Those projects helped over 8,000 people with disabilities and their caregivers.

The public education initiative aims to bring about more inclusion at schools, at work and in the community.

It hopes to build on the National Council of Social Service's See The True Me public education campaign that was launched in 2016. It encouraged Singaporeans to look beyond the disability and see people with disabilities for who they are and their abilities.

Tote Board chairman Moses Lee said at the event that people with disabilities and their caregivers have faced additional challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic, given their more complex and diverse needs and the strain from staying at home more.

"It is even more important now that we step up and make a concerted effort to help and support persons with disabilities and their caregivers to see them through these difficult times," he said.

He added that the $25 million ELI is part of more than $216 million of funds the Tote Board is providing to support critical and strategic services for the disability sector from 2020 to 2024.

SG Enable chief executive officer Ku Geok Boon said that public education efforts will also focus on promoting inclusion in essential services such as transport.

She added that the initiative will actively involve people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Said Ms Ku: "Their voices, their aspirations, and their hopes can help us see and recognise that, like each of us, they too are very much integral members of our society."

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