First Centre of Expertise for Disability Sports opened in Sengkang, swimming programme to start from June

Ms Grace Fu helping an amputee out of the swimming pool via the ramp after launching the first Centre of Expertise for Disability Sports on May 31, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Ms Grace Fu in the swimming pool with nine-year-old Teo Choon Khang, after launching the first Centre of Expertise for Disability Sports on May 31, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The first Centre of Expertise for Disability Sports was officially opened on Tuesday (May 31) afternoon at the ActiveSG Sengkang Sports Centre.

Launched by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, the Sengkang facility is the first of at least five centres that will be set up islandwide.

This will be followed by centres in Queenstown, Toa Payoh and Jurong West Sports Centres within the next five years.

Minister Fu said: "Sport has the ability to raise self-esteem and to inspire. Never have we felt its potential greater than at the Asean Para Games when we were inspired by the achievements of the athletes.

"Through the Disability Sports Master Plan, we want to harness the potential of sport further by making it easier for those with disabilities to lead an active lifestyle.

"Today's launch is an important first step for us. In time to come, Singapore will become a more inclusive society, where persons of all abilities can enjoy sports together."

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These centres will provide enhanced accessibility to sports facilities and programmes for persons with disabilities (PWDs), allowing them to learn a sport that is suitable for them in a disability-friendly environment.

Introductory programmes in swimming, table tennis and boccia will first be introduced followed by other sports including badminton, sitting volleyball and tennis.

Sport Singapore (SportSG) also launched its "Yes! I Can" swimming programme for PWDs at the Sengkang Swimming Complex.

There will be three public classes and one for special education schools from June onwards.

Noted SportSG chief executive Lim Teck Yin: "Swimming is a great sport that is suited for people of different abilities. It is invigorating and develops a good sense of water confidence... We intend for inclusive sports programming to be the norm."

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The Centres of Expertise are one of 18 recommendations by the Committee for Disability Sports and is part of the Disability Sports Master Plan.

Other suggestions include inclusive gyms while mainstream schools will begin a pilot programme this year to develop a sports curriculum for students with disabilities.

Paralympic champion Yip Pin Xiu was pleased to see the steps made towards a more inclusive society in Singapore.

She said: "Sport has been a big part of my life and it has shaped me into who I am today. It is my hope that sport can also impact the lives of many others with or without a disability.

"This (Disability Sports Master Plan) will go a long way in shaping the mindset of Singaporeans towards persons with disabilities, especially after a very successful Asean Para Games last year. It will also help more people with disabilities lead a more holistic life."

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