Singapore's first life skills centre for young adults with Down syndrome opens

Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) chairman R Sivanandam and Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) member Chen Wanyi present a token of appreciation to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development Sam Tan during the opening of the Independent Living and Training Centre. PHOTO: TODD SIMONSON

SINGAPORE - The first life skills facility for young adults with Down syndrome opened on Saturday (April 27) .

The Independent Living and Training Centre being run by the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) will provide training for young adults to practise and apply skills for everyday living so they may be more independent.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that impacts a person's physical features, intellect and development.

The idea for the new centre came in 2016 when caregivers said they wanted a programme to prepare Down syndrome adults to look after themselves should the need arise.

The facility at Blk 17A, Telok Blangah Crescent houses practice rooms, a kitchen, an infant toddler room, as well as a family room where parents or caregivers can mingle and have a short respite.

It can accommodate 24 people at one time and aims to help individuals with Down syndrome to practise and apply daily living skills in a realistic home environment and in turn cultivate greater independence.

The skills it will impart include independent travelling, personal hygiene, time management, home economics, personal safety, financial planning, self-advocacy, decision making and communal living.

Mr Alvin Ho, the charity's assistant director of services, said: "Professor Trevor Parmenter, who helped in conceptualising the centre's curriculum, said that improvements in early support at infant, school and post- school levels, together with better health support, means (young adults with Down syndrome) may outlive their parents.

"Therefore, it is crucial that they be helped to become more capable of looking after themselves as far as it is possible."

Mr Ho added that the centre will explore partnerships in coming months with community partners, social service groups and grassroots organisations to develop lifelong learning opportunities and collaborative projects.

The centre is the latest addition to the suite of services offered by the charity for individuals over 18 with Down syndrome.

These include an adult enrichment programme with drums and percussion, dance and visual art aspects .

Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development, said at the opening ceremony that he wants to encourage individuals and the private sector to continue to work together and come up with initiatives like the centre.

"Persons with special needs will find it difficult to achieve higher levels of independence without the rest of society playing its part," he added.

"Therefore, it is important for all of us to work together to do what we can."

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