In Singapore, we don’t have an integrated education system which allows the intellectually disabled to attend a mainstream school, so my children have never had the opportunity to meet or interact with people who have special needs in this area. Since, I feel that it is important for my children to understand the needs of others and be socially aware. This is why I arranged for J and Little E to visit the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) at their headquarters in Margaret Drive last month.
MINDS is one of the oldest and largest welfare organisations in Singapore. It specifically caters to people with intellectual disabilities, helping them to advance their development and well-being so as to allow them to participate as fully as possible in society.
Before this visit, I knew very little about the work of MINDS other than the provision of special education services for 7 to 18 year olds in their four Special Education schools and their children’s home for 6 to 18 year olds at MINDSville@Napiri. I had always wondered if we had support in Singapore for adults with intellectual disability.
I was very impressed to find out that MINDS provides support to intellectually disabled adults through services and facilities for their students who graduate from the special education schools at 18 years of age.
These pupils have the opportunity to be admitted to either Employment Development Centres or Training & Development Centres, depending on the level of specialised intervention needed to enhance their independance.
Not every intellectually disabled person is able to survive in open employment, so I was excited to learn that MINDS tries to provide contract work for their clients, and that one of the contracts that they recently won was with Singapore Airlines.
Singapore Airline’s headsets are meticulously cleaned, assembled and packaged by the clients at MINDS within a sheltered workshop environment. We were allowed to peek into the SIA-MINDS Employment Development Centre, where over 380 trainees were busily engaged in their work. It was obvious that all of them took great pride in their jobs, only stopping occasionally to wave at the kids as we watched them work.
We popped by their craft workshop, where teams of artists were busy creating glass tiles in the style of aboriginal dot-paintings. MINDS is active in nurturing interests in art, music and dance; encouraging creative souls to really shine.
In the corner of the workshop were beautiful oil paintings of flowers, homemade candles and glazed pottery with intricate designs on them, even a loom for weaving. The completed handicrafts are then sold to corporate customers and galleries to provide an income for each client.
MINDS also runs a series of shops featuring a range of carefully curated preloved and vintage items (furniture, clothes, books and housewares) as well as a car wash. These enterprises are all staffed and managed by MINDS clients and provide an avenue for them to learn how to interact with customers and handle the day-to-day retail and service operations.
One of the ladies working at the MINDS shop at Margaret Drive shyly gave me a brochure for the MINDS Perform, a professional performing arts group comprising of talented MINDS clients who love to express themselves through music and dance! This group has performed for national events and is frequently engaged to perform in corporate events as well. I’m told that the MINDS Taiko Drum Troupe is particularly popular, as their performances are both energetic and expressive.
Of course, MINDS also provides an adult residential service at MINDSville@Napiri (which is like a hostel or group home) as well as allied health services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. There is also support and training for caregivers to enhance their skills in the management of their loved ones, both young and old.
My children were really very fascinated in the work of MINDS and how the people there all work so hard every day. As my 5 year old, J, said to me afterwards, ‘They have to work harder at everything! Everyone should try to help’. *Mommy Pride Moment*
This why I have clubbed together with a group of mom bloggers in order to start an online charity fund-raiser (which I will henceforth refer on Owls Well as the MINDS-craft Project).
From now until Mother’s Day 2014, the MINDS-craft Project will be selling handmade cards and gift tags off our blogs in order to raise funds in support of MINDS. The materials and workmanship is our contribution to the cause, so that 100% of the proceeds will go directly to MINDS. I’ll be posting more on this later on this week.
I hope that I will have your support in this endeavor of mine!