Monday, 20 January 2014

New programme to pair up special needs students with peers from mainstream schools

Students from ITE to be buddies with those at special school
By Carolyn Khew, The Sunday Times, 19 Jan 2014

Intellectually disabled students will soon have more opportunities for interaction with others with the launch of a programme aimed at boosting their social skills.

The Buddy'In programme by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) was launched yesterday at the inaugural "We Are Able" conference.

Under the programme, 10 students from the Association for Persons with Special Needs' (APSN) Delta Senior School will be paired up with students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West aged 17 to 18.

The 10 buddy pairs are encouraged to spend at least 80 hours together over a span of six to nine months and participate in activities such as leadership camps and watching movies.

ITE College West student Benny Chan, 17, who volunteered for the programme, said: "It's my first time doing something like this... The programme will broaden my mind and help me learn how to include (people with special needs) in society."

Madam Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament and adviser to the NCSS, who was the guest of honour at the conference, gave some encouragement to the intellectually disabled students who were at the event.

"You will face many challenges, but I urge you to constantly seek ways to overcome the barriers you face, be bold to speak up when you need to, and be forgiving and compassionate to others who may take more time to understand you," she said.

Separately, a six-month mentorship programme which aims to help students learn professional development skills was also launched yesterday by the United States Embassy here.

The programme will help 32 ITE College West students learn skills such as interview preparation and social etiquette over business lunches.

These students will also visit US companies in Singapore, such as Nike, to learn more about working experience.

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