Official Opening of SPD@Tampines – Speech by Dr Ow Chee Chung

Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development and Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC;

Mr Sin Boon Ann, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC;
Tampines grassroots leaders;

Participants of the Breaking Barriers Walk;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen



1· Good morning and welcome to the official opening of SPD@Tampines. I would like to especially pay tribute to the participants who had walked more than 30km from SPD’s headquarters in Tiong Bahru to join us at our opening this morning. They started the walk last night. Congratulations on completing the Breaking Barriers Walk.

2· This walk has three objectives: First, it marks the taking of our services to the East; Two, it’s a show of overcoming barriers – physical, mental and social barriers for both disabled and non-disabled people and Three, it is a fundraising effort. I am pleased to announce that we should be able to achieve about $120,000 when all the donations are tallied. Our grateful thanks to all participants of the Breaking Barriers Walk for your hard work.



3· Today marks a very important milestone for Society for the Physically Disabled or SPD in short. SPD has been serving people with physical disabilities for over 43 years, operating our services in the central region in Tiong Bahru with a short stint in Whampoa. Our client load has been increasing significantly especially in the last three years. Then, we served about 600 persons. Today, we attend to more than 2,000 clients, about a four-fold increase in three years.

4· To meet increasing needs and as part of our organisational review, we have put in place a bold 3-year plan to develop three regional centres in the community by 2010 with one in the East, one in the Central, and one in the West.

5· There are two compelling reasons for this development. Firstly, we received valuable feedback from clients and key referral partners (restructured hospitals) indicating a demand for our rehabilitation services outside of the central region that we have been operating in. Interestingly, when we did a profiling of our clients served at Tiong Bahru, we found that our clients were quite evenly distributed across the country. Hence, it does make sense to move beyond the current location.

6· Next, we have also been encouraged by the development of the ComCare and ComCare network. By moving closer to the community, we can better offer our services and partner with the community leaders, grassroots and other community organisations in delivering social and rehabilitation programmes to the less fortunate.

7· These plans are indeed challenging and bold. We are glad to be able to kick-start the first centre in the East. This is made possible by three groups of people. Firstly, we would like to thank our clients and our key referral partners for their feedback and support. Secondly, we would like to thank our sponsors and donors who share a similar vision. Our special thanks go to StarHub, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Shaw Foundation, Lee Foundation, Hong Leong Foundation and Tan Chin Tuan Foundation, without which SPD@Tampines would not have been possible.

8· And finally, we would like to thank our Minister, community and grassroots leaders in the East who openly welcomed our services. Specifically, we would like to thank Mr Sin Boon Ann, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, Tampines Community Club staff and the Tampines local community leaders. As our first point of contact, their warmth and openness gave us the encouragement to push on to develop the centre.



9· SPD@Tampines will provide centre-based rehabilitation services for children, adults and the elderly. We have re-organised our Therapy Hub to have a base in the East to support our partners. In addition, our clients will have access to specialised case management and assistive technology services via the centre.

10· We are also happy to announce that we have just started a pilot programme in early intervention for children with developmental delays who are in the mainstream pre-school. Known as PACES – the acronym for Providing Access to Early Support, this programme has been recommended as a key area by the Enabling Masterplan Steering Committee to the government to support children with special needs. We would like to thank NTUC Childcare Co-operative Ltd, PAP Community Foundation pre-schools and the KKH Child Development Unit who will be working with us to operationalise this pilot programme. We certainly hope that the Government can expedite its review and provide the necessary financial support to roll out this critical programme soon. SPD will be happy to extend its services beyond the pilot agencies to reach out to more children with developmental disabilities.

11· Besides these services, our professional staff in our Tampines centre shall be happy to work closely with the Central Development Council and grassroots agencies in community projects including accessibility/mobility and wellness programmes as well as social enterprises that will benefit residents in the East. This is a continuation of our efforts working with community organisations and the authorities in improving the lives of disabled people. Our efforts include helping to review the “”Code on Barrier-Free Accessibility in Buildings 2002″”, participating in drawing up an accessibility masterplan for Aljunied Town, and in BCA’s Universal Design Award Assessment Committee for 2007, to name a few.



12· Today also marks a very important milestone of our services, in particular, our therapy services. We would like to take this opportunity to share the development of our therapy services over the last four years. As part of our strategic review, we had decided to strengthen and build our expertise in the area of therapy services as a core competency.

13· In 2002, we had only four therapists, serving mainly centre-based clients in our sheltered workshop and day activity centre. By 2003, we started a Rehabilitation Centre with the support of Singapore Power that catered to non-centre based clients as well. Since then, we have never looked back.

14· Today, SPD has a comprehensive range of therapy services comprising paediatric rehabilitation, home therapy, a community integration programme and a therapy hub that supports therapy needs of other VWOs. We have grown to a strength of close to 40 therapists providing physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy services serving people of all ages. We will continue to expand our therapy services and strengthen the professional standards.



15· On this happy note, we would like to thank our Guest-of-Honour, Mr Mah Bow Tan, Mr Sin Boon Ann and their community leaders for being so supportive in facilitating the set up of SPD@Tampines. We are also grateful to our sponsors and donors who believe in our vision. Together, we can achieve a community where people with disabilities are a part rather than apart from the society.