Five new Centres of Expertise for disability sports
Five new Centres of Expertise will be built to advance disability sports to higher level
Sending a strong signal that the Government is serious about strengthening the disability sports scene in Singapore, Centres of Expertise will be built at five Active SG sports centres starting next year.
Making the announcement at the Asean Para Games (APG) symposium at the Marina Bay Sands yesterday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu gave a glimpse into the key recommendations made by the Committee for Disability Sports.
The committee was formed earlier this year as part of the Government's vision to build a more inclusive society and to open up more opportunities for the disabled to take part in sports.
She revealed that Centres of Expertise will first be launched in the heartlands, at Jurong West and Toa Payoh, next year.
Each centre will pilot programmes in one disability sport such as table tennis, swimming and boccia.
"These Centres of Expertise will provide enhanced barrier-free access and offer sports programmes tailored for persons with disabilities," said Fu.
"We also plan to build inclusive gyms within these centres, with fitness equipment suitable for users of all abilities.
"Overall, these Centres will provide persons with disabilities the supporting infrastructure to develop motor skills and improve their fitness, and do this within an environment where persons with or without disabilities can exercise and participate in sports together.
"The Centres will allow individuals to pursue a sport at different levels, by starting with learn-to-play modules, before progressing to play-the-game, and finally building up their competencies in learn-to-compete programmes."
Another key recommendation is to strengthen the disability sports ecosystem and build professional capabilities within the sector, which include working with mainstream schools.
To do so, Fu said: "One way is for us to work more closely with voluntary welfare organisations, hospitals and rehabilitation centres to introduce sport as part of the rehabilitation and recovery process for patients.
"Not only can sport help to keep patients active, many of our para-athletes have actually fed back to us that being exposed to a community of peers, coaches and volunteers provided an important support network that helped them to cope, adjust and move on.
"We also plan to have workshops to equip teachers to run adapted and inclusive physical education lessons so that more students with disabilities, whether in mainstream or special education schools, can participate in sports.
"By doing so, we hope to encourage students to embrace an active lifestyle from young and continue even after they leave school."
Fu hopes that the 8th APG, which Singapore is hosting for the first time and will run from today till Dec 9, will help build awareness and affinity for disability sport and leave a lasting legacy.
She added: "As we roll out these initiatives in the coming years, we will need to tap on the collective experience and expertise of the community of disability sports experts.
"We hope that Singaporeans can be inspired by the personal testimonies and achievement of many more athletes even after the APG.
"Ultimately, we hope to build upon the 8th APG to enable more persons with disability to live better through sports.
"We want to use disability sports to improve society's awareness and understanding of persons with special needs and, through this, foster a more inclusive and caring society in Singapore."
"We hope that Singaporeans can be inspired by the personal testimonies and achievement of many more athletes even after the Asean Para Games. Ultimately, we hope to build upon the 8th APG to enable more persons with disability to live better through sports."
- Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu