Friday, 24 March 2017

First MINDS activity centre in industrial estate

First activity centre in industrial estate for MINDS clients
By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 23 Mar 2017

A new day activity centre for people with intellectual disabilities was officially opened yesterday in an industrial estate. It is believed to be a first for such centres here.

The setting offers clients an opportunity to take part in activities in the estate, such as making sushi.

Run by the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), it is sited in Tradehub 21 in Jurong.

MINDS has five other day activity centres, all in housing estates or community buildings.

These centres offer activities that train MINDS' clients to improve their independent living skills and pre-vocational skills, among others.

Prior to the opening of the latest centre, MINDS had only one similar centre in western Singapore, in Clementi. There were 30 to 40 people on the waiting list. The Clementi centre serves about 70 people. The one in Jurong, which started in August last year, has about 50 places and serves 39 people.

MINDS said in a statement that setting up the Jurong centre was "instrumental in alleviating the pressures of the growing wait list for day activity spaces in the west".

It shares the unit with Evangel Bible-Presbyterian Church and uses the space on weekdays.

The church uses it on weekends.

The church, which had been using the premises since 2011, carried out minor retrofitting works - such as adding window grilles and foldable wall partitions - to meet MINDS' needs. There have also been collaborations between the centre and its neighbours in Tradehub 21.

Sakae Sushi, which has a branch there, has run a sushi-making class for MINDS' clients. It will hold similar classes to develop their work-readiness skills.

NTUC Learning Hub, which has a training facility two floors above the MINDS centre, has agreed to have its staff accompany the centre's clients on morning walks whenever possible.

At the centre's official opening, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin lauded the MINDS centre's partnerships with companies and the church.

He said: "It's multi-faceted but not very complicated and doesn't require a lot more resources...

"If this is scaled across the board, you can imagine the change effect on society. It's quite tremendous."

The proximity means that the companies' volunteering efforts can be executed more easily and regularly, he added.

MINDS chief executive Keh Eng Song said the centre's clients still go for activities outside the industrial area. They have morning walks and visit supermarkets, where they practise how to queue and pay for their shopping, for instance.

Bukit Panjang resident Nancy Foo, 50, had her 22-year-old son on a waiting list for 10 years before he joined the Jurong Minds centre in September last year.

She could then work part-time as an administrative assistant.

Since her son mostly stayed at home for the past 10 years, "it was initially very hard for him when he joined the centre", she said.

"But the staff's persistence paid off. His posture has improved, he can take longer walks without feeling tired and he is better at making eye contact with people."

MINDS runs other facilities, including special education schools and a support centre for caregivers. It serves more than 2,300 clients.

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