APSN gives those who are mildly intellectually-disabled a chance to earn a living through its Centre For Adults.
By Dawn Seow
It is a school and more. The Centre for Adults (CFA), set up by the Association for People with Special Needs (APSN) is a place where people with mild intellectual disabilities develop skills for employment and find employment.
Located in the building that formerly housed Haig Girls’ School in Katong, the CFA is a vocational training center that provides training to 150 clients. Students who are not able to graduate from APSN’s secondary schools and enter into its Delta Senior School will go to the CFA for vocational training.
A team from City Harvest Church visited the center on Oct. 25, bringing a gift of S$10, 000. The amount was part of the offerings the church collects from its weekly prayer meeting on Friday evenings. CHC is committed to donating part of the offerings toward a charitable cause each week.
Besides providing skill-based vocational training, the center also coaches its students in functional life skills to prepare them for employment. For example, students are expected to learn independence by traveling to and from the center on their own instead of taking a school bus like they used to do in APSN School. To simulate a working environment within the center, the training hours reflect factory hours of 8.30am to 4.30pm daily.
The center also organizes different community-based activities, courses and overnight camps to allow clients to learn to live independent lives.
In CFA, the clients go through three phases of education. The first phase sees them through three years of training in one of the programs: Food and Beverage, Hospitality, Recycling and Thrift, Arts and Handicraft, or Horticulture. Upon completion of the course, they would enter the second phase of program, which is to work in a sheltered workshop within the center during the Sheltered Employment Training.
In the final phase of the training, job placement officers will assess clients who have successfully completed their training for their readiness to start working. The officers will also accompany the client for a period of time to ensure that the client fits into the working environment well.
The center is built like a small town: it is fully equipped with healthcare facilities such as a physiotherapy room, a bakery, a canteen, a garden that grows hydroponic plants and fruit trees, and a thrift shop. In line with its mission, the center aims to place all its clients into open competitive employment. Its Sheltered Work training program is thus tailored to maximize the learning experience of its clients and ultimately to prepare them for employment.
Other training facilities include a mock hotel room, sponsored and fitted by Pan Pacific Hotel; an art and craft room, where the clients produce corporate gifts and paintings; and a camera room with equipment sponsored by Canon.
“Because our clients only suffer from mild intellectual disabilities, our job placement success rate is relatively high,” said the staff at the CFA. “Some take a longer time, some take less, but most of them eventually go out for open employment.”
A group of special need clients warmly waved farewell to the CHC team. Given a chance, those with special needs in society can find joy and self-worth. That is the good work APSN, founded in the ’70s, continues to do after nearly 50 years.
To find out more about APSN and its works, go to www.apsn.org.sg