$40m boost for special-needs kids, youth

ComChest Chairman Ms Chua (7th from right), NCSS President RADM (RET) Kwek (2nd from right), NCSS CEO Ms Ang (1st from right), with beneficiaries

Children with special needs and at-risk youth are the focus of the Community Chest's fund-raisers this financial year.

It plans to raise $40.2 million to meet their needs, which will account for 56 per cent of the record $72.3 million it aims to raise by the end of March next year, through events such as a walking event in Marina Bay.

This was announced by Ms Jennie Chua, chairman of the Community Chest, during a media conference yesterday.

Some 10,700 more individuals are expected to benefit from a 30 per cent increase in total funds raised over last year's.

Part of the funds raised will be used to set up three new centres to provide special-needs children with educational and therapy services. The centres are expected to benefit an additional 300 children.

The services provided at these centres are part of the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children, introduced in 2002 to help those at risk of developing a disabling condition between birth and six years of age.

The first new centre will be opened this month in Jurong, and will be run by the Society for the Physically Disabled.

Enrolment at existing centres will also be ramped up, increasing the total number of children under the early-intervention programme by 28 per cent to 2,300.

The Community Chest and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports will co-fund 54 programmes to improve the social skills of 3,800 at-risk youth and help them with emotional stress they may face.

The programmes will support them in completing their education, too, and include discussion sessions with their families to ensure that they get adequate family support.

The Community Chest is also looking into enhancing the curriculum and capacity of special-education schools, and improving support services for 500 more adults with disabilities.

One person who has benefited from attending a special-education school is Ms Masni Miswari, 28, who has an intellectual disability.

Ms Masni now applies the food- preparation and dish-washing skills she picked up at the SIA-Minds Employment Development Centre in her job as a kitchen stewardess at Holiday Inn Atrium. "The skills I learnt make it easier for me to work," she said.

samboh@sph.com.sg


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