Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance
Mr Chan Heng Kee
Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Social and Family Development
Mr Ang Wei Neng
Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC
Jurong grassroots leaders
Participants of the “Journey to the West” Walk
Ladies and gentlemen
- Good morning and a very warm welcome to the official opening of SPD@Jurong. First of all, I would like to applaud the 200 Journey to the West participants who gave up their sleep last night to walk more than 20 kilometers from our headquarters in Tiong Bahru to join us for this morning’s celebrations. Congratulations and kudos on completing the walk!
- An overnight walk has become somewhat a tradition for us. We held an overnight walk when we opened SPD@Tampines, our first satellite centre in the East in 2007. With the opening of SPD@Jurong, we have done the same. The coming together of everyone – from staff and donors to sector partners and supporters, able-bodied individuals and persons with disabilities alike – holds some significance to what we at the Society for the Physically Disabled, or SPD in short, believe in. And that is the synergy we generate as a group has the potential to create greater impact in the community that we serve.
RATIONALE FOR SPD@JURONG
- SPD has been serving people with disabilities for the past 50 years. The organisation has grown from serving close to 700 people 10 years ago to 4,600 people today. During this time, we expanded our service offerings to better meet the growing needs of people with disabilities in Singapore. As we grew, we needed new facilities to cope with the increasing client load. We mooted the diversification of our operations from Tiong Bahru to bring services to people with disabilities in the eastern and western regions of Singapore . It was also intended to reduce their travelling time and possibly transport costs.
- It is the hard work and dedication that the SPD team had put in over the last few years that brings us here today. We had achieved what we set out to do many years ago – bringing our programmes and services into the community and making them easily accessible to those who require our support. We now have centres in Tiong Bahru, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Jurong. So, we do have a quite a lot of work ahead of us.
EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES AT SPD@JURONG
- I am happy to share that work at SPD@Jurong is gaining momentum. We came into Jurong in July 2012 with our Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children, we call it EIPIC in short. In September last year, we also started operating the Development Support Programme or DSP from Jurong as well. These are the two programmes that we offer at SPD@Jurong and they are both in full swing. To date, close to 160 children 6 years and below in this community have received early intervention support from SPD.
- With EIPIC, children with special needs and global developmental delays come to our centre twice or thrice a week to receive therapy and at the same time pick up social skills interacting with their peers. DSP, on the other hand, brings therapy and learning support into the childcare centres or pre-schools of the children who have mild developmental delays, such as mild speech, language or learning delays. Children identified with these issues receive a helping hand to bring them up to speed with their peers, and that helps ease the transition to primary school.
- Some of you may ask why only children services at SPD@Jurong. Well, the former Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports, now Ministry of Social and Family Development or MSF, together with the National Council of Social Service or NCSS, had identified the need for early intervention services on this part of the island. With the experience from SPD@Tampines, we responded by offering these two services in Jurong. We believe the demand for these services will continue to grow and we will do what we can to meet these needs.
- Anchoring ourselves in Tampines and Jurong has allowed us to connect better with the residents and we are also able to establish stronger ties with the different community organisations such as the polyclinics, childcare centres, residents’ committees, town councils and community development councils or CDCs. These partnerships are important if we are to reach out to more people and tap on community resources to offer better care and support to people with disabilities.
- In the short time that we have been here in Jurong, we received much grassroots support. For instance, the Residents’ Committee invited us to join them at one of their events last year to share with residents who we are and what we do. The Jurong Town Council has also been quick to respond with a solution to the slippery floor outside our centre when we highlighted the hazards that it posed to our children and their elderly caregivers during rainy days.
- On the subject of partnerships, this would be an opportune time to thank MSF, NCSS and SG Enable for the trust that they had in us to operate EIPIC and DSP in Jurong. The constant dialogues with ministries and agencies like NCSS and SG Enable help surface issues that we as well as other people with disabilities face so that systems and service gaps can be better addressed.
LAUNCH OF 50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
- Today, we celebrate not only the official opening of our Jurong centre, but also the start of a year-long 50th anniversary celebration. We have come a long way since 1964 when we were founded. We grew from a humble sheltered workshop 50 years ago in Tiong Bahru to our second satellite centre opening today. Besides early intervention programmes, SPD also offers services ranging from therapy, day care and education to employment support, vocational training and assistive technology to support people of different disabilities and of different ages in their rehabilitation into the community.
- It might appear that SPD has achieved much, and progressed much. It should be placed on record that these achievements and progress are not ours alone. They had only been possible because we have the support from everyone, like you, that SPD is what it is today.
- An Inter-Day Activity Centre Sports Day next week and a gala dinner towards the end of the year are two of the anniversary events lined up for the year. We hope you will join us at some of these events.
- On this note, I would like to thank DPM for gracing this occasion and for officiating the opening of SPD@Jurong. Our heartfelt thanks also go out to Mr Ang Wei Neng and his community leaders who have been so supportive of our outreach efforts in Jurong. Last but not least, to our donors, volunteers and partners, we cannot thank you enough for believing in our vision and our cause. We hope you will continue in this journey with us to help every person with disability integrate into and become a part of our society.
I wish all of you a pleasant morning. Thank you.