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Priscilla Goy
Friday, Jul 4, 2014

Singapore

Place for disabled people to connect

The Straits Times | Priscilla Goy | Friday, Jul 4, 2014

Madam Marsita Rubianti helping her son Mohammad Farhan (left) to place a pebble with the words “Thank you so much” in the heart shape formed by other messages for SG Enable, which yesterday unveiled plans for a new centre (right) in Redhill offering community and recreational space and services for people with disabilities.

DISABLED people can look forward to more opportunities for socialising among themselves and with the wider community.

A new site in Redhill, to be ready in the second half of next year, will have an art gallery featuring works by the disabled, and could offer activities such as flea markets and urban farming.

It will be a one-stop centre where the disabled and their caregivers can get information, referral and employment services as well as apply for grants.

Yesterday, plans for the 30,000 sq m site, as big as four football fields, were unveiled by government-established agency SG Enable, which offers services for people with disabilities.

Its office is already at the 141 Redhill Road site, which used to house the Employment and Employability Institute under the National Trades Union Congress.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said he hopes the new place will lead to three types of "connections".

The first two are about connecting the disabled with job opportunities available to others, and connecting the disabled with the rest of society.

"We didn't want this place just to be an exclusive one for people with disabilities, as if it is a part that is divorced from the larger society," he said.

He hopes the new site will also be one where people can connect with their "inner selves".

It will have facilities for onthe- job training in the food and beverage and retail sectors. And there will be disabled-friendly features such as lifts, ramps and sheltered walkways from the Redhill MRT station.

SG Enable's chief executive Ku Geok Boon said: "Through the services and infrastructure on this site, we hope to enable people with disabilities to... pursue independent and dignified lives."

Help groups such as the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD), Autism Resource Centre and the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore will have satellite offices at the site.

SPD executive director Abhimanyau Pal said offering multiple services under one roof would be helpful.

Housewife Marsita Rubianti, 40, whose 12-year-old s o n i s intellectually disabled, said that he could go to the site for job training while she could tap other information services.

Mr Phillip Tan, chairman of Community Chest, yesterday said it has raised $2.5 million for the upgrading of the site.

This will be matched dollar for dollar by the Government. A naming contest for the new site was also launched yesterday.

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg


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