09 September 2005

Singapore, 9 September 2005 – Ms Chin Yee Lee, a teacher at East View Secondary School, previously would not think twice about excluding physically disabled students from PE lessons. She thought that the activities might be too strenuous or dangerous for them if they were to participate. However, after undergoing the TOPS Workshop provided by The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) in July this year, her perception has since changed as she has learnt how to modify the lessons to suit these children with physical disabilities.


The Workshop is part of SPD’s efforts to promote the integration of students with physical disabilities into mainstream schools. It is one of the programmes conducted by the new StarHub-SPD Learning & Development Centre (LDC).  


Made possible by a S$250,000 contribution from the StarHub IDD Charity Fund, the LDC will take a holistic and structured approach to meeting the needs of physically disabled students studying in mainstream schools. 


“Physically disabled students have to contend daily with issues like accessibility problems, social acceptance and integration with non-disabled students, on top of their academic studies. It can be a tremendous challenge for many to balance life’s priorities well. SPD's commitment to provide such students with the same opportunities for learning and living as non-disabled students is truly admirable and we are pleased to lend support to their efforts from the StarHub IDD Charity Fund through which one per cent of our IDD 008 and IDD 018 revenue is channeled for charitable works,” said Mr Yong Lum Sung, Chief Operating Officer, StarHub.


The StarHub-SPD LDC aims to conduct enrichment programmes, workshops and activities that will complement mainstream education for physically disabled students, as well as work with external parties like teachers and trainers to provide greater support for them.


“I am glad to attend the TOPS training. It has given me a better understanding of the needs of children with physical disabilities. Prior to the workshop, I thought it would be best to exclude them from PE lessons to be safe, but now I can see that there are ways to include them. I will try to apply what I have learnt to my PE lesson if I encounter a disabled student in the future,” said Ms Chin.


According to anecdotal evidence and feedback, many students with physical disabilities have less learning exposures due to limited opportunities for socialising outside classes and engaging in extra-curricular activities.  Normal workshops and enrichment programmes may not be able to meet their needs, and transportation issues often make it inconvenient for them to participate in activities outside school. Such accessibility problems may also be worsened by financial difficulties.


The programmes offered by the LDC will cover a broad range of content tailored to students with physical disabilities. These include creative writing, entrepreneurship, speech and drama, and stress management workshops.  Participants can also look forward to outdoor activities such as camps, field trips and educational tours. Furthermore, as part of the Centre’s holistic approach to education, students are encouraged to participate in sporting events and competitions for disabled people. There are also plans to organise a soccer clinic, which will be open to non-disabled students as well.  400 training places will be offered over the next two years with the aim to promote integration, instill social confidence and enhance the general well being of students who are physically disabled.


SPD will partner established training centres to enhance the quality of the programmes, and ensure that the trainers give consideration to the students’ special needs. For the LDC’s first enrichment programme following its launch on 9 September, social workers worked with financial skills workshop trainer Ms Amy Lin, to tailor a programme that would take the financial, as well as the physical constraints of the students into consideration.


For mainstream school teachers, the LDC aims to be a one-stop centre, providing them with information and training on how to handle and interact with physically disabled students.


Parents and caregivers will also be able to attend workshops covering topics such as financial planning, understanding the local education system, and helping physically disabled children adjust to Primary 1, at the LDC.  Programmes will be organised to provide support and assist them in maximising their child’s potential.