Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam Opens Society for the Physically Disabled’s Centre in Jurong

Singapore, 10 May 2014 – For 4-year-old Nur Faidisha Qistina who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, her condition also resulted in the delay in her gross and fine motor developments and she struggles with mobility. She required assistance when balancing, even while sitting on a chair. Qistina was shy and timid when she was first enrolled into Society for the Physically Disabled’s (SPD) Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) at SPD@Jurong. Now, she demonstrates spontaneity while socialising in groups and is also confident of sitting and balancing on her own. Qistina has also shown marked improvement in her social-communication skills, and has started using two-to three-word phrases to express herself.


SPD@Jurong was set up to provide easy access to early intervention support for children, like Qistina, who have special needs and stay in the western region of Singapore. Officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam this morning, the centre which is located at Jurong East Avenue 1 has served close to 160 children with special needs in Jurong since July 2012.


“There was a need for early intervention services on this part of the island and we responded. By bringing services into Jurong, we hope to establish stronger ties with grassroots organisations so that we can work together to extend adequate care and support to our children and their families. We want to make SPD a truly community- based organisation, where everyone has a role in helping people with special needs integrate into the community,” said Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD.


EIPIC and Development Support Programme (DSP) are the two programmes offered at SPD@Jurong. With early intervention, children with special needs get a boost in their foundation years which will go towards helping them maximise their potentials when they grow up.


“Our family is happy to see the progress that Qistina has made. She enjoys coming to SPD and working with her teacher and therapists. She has also made friends here,” said Madam Asmaniah, Qistina’s grandmother and primary caregiver.


EIPIC is a centre-based programme that provides educational and therapy services to children 6 years of age and below who are diagnosed with special needs such as autism spectrum disorder and global developmental delays. It delivers six hours of therapy twice or thrice weekly to help improve the children’s motor, communication, social, self-help and cognitive skills. With funding support from Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), National Council of Social Service and Tote Board Social Service Fund, about 140 children have received support from this programme at SPD@Jurong since July 2012. This year alone, SPD targets to serve 150 children at its EIPIC centre in Jurong.


DSP, on the other hand, brings intervention into pre-schools, the child’s natural learning environment. The programme, which spans 10 to 15 weeks, is extended to children who have mild learning difficulties or have delays in speech and language development. Staffed with professionals ranging from occupational therapists, speech therapists, learning support facilitators and educators, education psychologists as well as social workers and case management officers, the DSP team works with these children to develop their weaknesses in areas such as language, speech and writing as well as socialisation and classroom participation skills so as to help smoothen their transition into mainstream primary schooling. SPD@Jurong has worked with close to 40 pre- schools to screen about 150 children and provided interventions to 21 of them.


DSP was introduced by MSF in May 2012 and SPD was one of the three service providers appointed to run the programme. Currently, it is the only service provider serving two regions in Singapore – the eastern and western regions through SPD@Tampines and SPD@Jurong respectively.


Close to 200 SPD staff, clients, donors as well as sector partners and supporters also participated in an overnight walk last night in conjunction with the official opening of SPD@Jurong. Organised by SPD to signify its service outreach into the western regions of Singapore and to show solidarity in the community for the disability cause, the “Journey to the West” walk was flagged off by Mr David Ong, Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC, at SPD’s headquarters in Tiong Bahru at midnight. Participants ended their 20km walk at SPD@Jurong this morning in time for the opening celebrations.


The overnight walk and official opening of SPD@Jurong also marked the start of SPD’s year-long 50th anniversary celebrations. Officially registered with the Registry of Societies on 27 November 1964, SPD is planning a series of events from now till March 2015 to celebrate half a century of working in partnership with people with disabilities and their caregivers to develop their potential to the fullest so that they can be self- reliant and independent.


Currently, SPD serves about 4,600 people with disabilities including those with physical and sensory disabilities as well as those with developmental delays. It operates at four centres – in Jurong, Tampines, Tiong Bahru and Toa Payoh – offering about 20 programmes and services that encompass rehabilitation, training, consultation and assessment in assistive technology, day care, and employment, education and social support.