SINGAPORE - A new playroom where children with special needs can play alongside mainstream school children with toys specially adapted to their needs was officially opened on Sunday (June 19) in Pasir Ris Elias Community Club.
The over 50 toys include motor cars with remote controls that have larger buttons, developed by non-profit organisation Engineering Good and engineering firm Arup to cater to children with fine motor skills challenges.
The toy library, set up by North East Community Development Council (CDC) and Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS), aims to break down barriers between mainstream school and special needs children through play.
It is believed to be the first integrated toy library in Singapore, and is the fourth toy library in the district. North East District Mayor and Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck said he hopes to see 20 toy libraries in the district - at least one per constituency - by the end of the year, and eventually have as many as 90 to match the number of book kiosks in the district.
"I want to thank the community for donating. Residents themselves are filling up the libraries with books and toys," said Mr Teo.
Deputy Prime Minister and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Teo Chee Hean, who was the guest of honour at the opening event on Sunday, said he was delighted at the initiative. "It's an integrated place where families can be with their kids, and it's also an inclusive (place) for kids of all needs," he said.
Starting next month (July), CPAS will be organising weekly sessions at the room on Mondays for preschool children from special needs and mainstream schools to learn and play together through storytelling, music and puppet shows.
CPAS executive director and North East CDC's district councillor Jessie Holmberg said barriers between children may be reduced when they start playing together at a young age.
"Children will learn to care for each other beyond their own needs when they see their peers needing help," she added.
The North East Community Toy Library @ Pasir Ris Elias CC is open daily from 10am to 9pm.
Children will be able to play with the toys in the playroom, and there may be a loan programme when more toys are available, said the CDC.