Support those with special needs so they can be independent: President Halimah

SINGAPORE — Urging employers to be forthcoming when it comes to hiring and training people with special needs, President Halimah Yacob noted that it is important that support be given to this group so that they can be independent and integrate into society.

On Friday (Sept 15), she visited the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre for Adults at Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Hub, in her first public engagement a day after she was sworn in as President.

At the centre, Mdm Halimah, 63, interacted with some of the students and observed the training provided in different areas, from baking to retail services.

She also dropped by an occupational therapy class, where students learn how to improve their communication skills.

Speaking to reporters later, the President said that the visit gave her a “good idea” of APSN’s efforts to help about 100 of its students with special needs acquire skills and place them in jobs.

She praised ASPN for modifying the centre’s training facilities to cater to students’ needs, as they might not be able to adjust to the pace and processes in a standardised training facility.

The centre, she noted, also places emphasis on developing students’ social skills, which will be beneficial when they get jobs that require them to interact with customers.

“That’s absolutely crucial because it is absolutely important we help our friends with special needs to be independent, to be able to earn an income and therefore to be integrated into society,” said Mdm Halimah.

“I do hope employers will be very forthcoming ... to support the work of the APSN in terms of helping them to acquire skills as well as to give them work to do.”

Hoping to generate more awareness for people with special needs through the President’s Challenge — an annual campaign to raise funds for charity — Mdm Halimah said that the initiative could support APSN’s future plans to further develop the skills of people with special needs.

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