Speech by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Transport at Mystique III Down Syndrome Association Charity Gala Dinner, held in conjunction with Miss Singapore World 2009, on 31 July 200931 Jul 2009
Mr Tan Soo Khoon,
Patron, Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) or DSA
Mr Ong Chin Wah,
Ms Kristin Van Burm,
Chairperson of the Organising Committee,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 I am delighted to be here this evening at the Down Syndrome Association's Charity Gala Dinner, held in conjunction with the Grand Finals of the Miss Singapore World 2009.
2 This evening's event aims to raise awareness about Down syndrome and to promote the inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome in our society. Hence, the Miss Singapore World pageant's motto of 'Beauty with a Purpose' is rather appropriate.
The Work of DSA
3 The Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) or DSA has its humble beginnings as a parent support group, operating out of a parent's home in 1996. Since then, it has grown to be an established service provider for individuals with Down syndrome, as well as their families. Over the years, DSA has provided a comprehensive range of quality services to the Down syndrome community in Singapore.
4 Studies have revealed that Down syndrome is the most common cause of intellectual and learning disability in individuals around the world, occurring in one out of every eight hundred live births. With the advancements in medical science, healthcare and education attributing to the extended lifespan of individuals with Down syndrome in recent years, there is now the need to further enhance their overall well-being and quality of life.
5 We all need to recognise that this can only be achieved if holistic support for individuals with Down syndrome is in place. However, developing a strong support structure for individuals with Down syndrome and their families goes beyond physical concerns. Meeting the psychological, social and emotional needs in different aspects of t
Meeting Down Syndrome Community's Needs
6 For this reason, I am glad to see that DSA has been actively addressing these concerns through their various services. The Association not only conducts workplace integration training to adults with Down syndrome, but also provides support services to the families to help them understand the important role they play in encouraging their unique family members. Just as importantly, the DSA also engages the society to include individuals with Down syndrome into the schools, workplaces and community.
7 The Enabling Masterplan (2007-2011), which is a public-private-people sector effort, has envisaged for Singapore to be an inclusive society to integrate persons with disabilities with the society at large. DSA has contributed to this vision. Today, you can find children with Down syndrome studying alongside their peers in mainstream kindergartens and schools; adults finding work opportunities in the mainstream society; and community facilities shared by all.
8 The Integration Facilitation Support Programme (IFSP) initiated by the DSA is an example how partnerships between the Association and schools have been fostered. The range of consultancy services provided to impart relevant skills sets to teachers interacting with students with Down syndrome will go a long way in helping to build conducive environments for children with special learning needs.
9 I also wish to commend the DSA for its role in the successfully organised 2nd Asia Pacific Regional Congress for the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID), held in Singapore last month. With 400 delegates from around the world, the Congress's theme of 'Creating Possibilities for an Inclusive Society' was a timely reminder for the able-bodied to not discriminate against those with disabilities.
10 In closing, I would like to commend DSA for its contribution to the Down syndrome community and I urge you to continue to keep up the good work in enhancing and enriching the lives of children and adults with Down syndrome. All of us in the community have a part to play in doing all we can to contribute to the improvement of lives of Down syndrome individuals. Whether it is financial resources, time or expertise, it would definitely help persons with Down syndrome lead independent lives and in making Singapore a more inclusive society.
11 On this note, I would like to thank stalwart supporters of DSA, like the Tote Board, Lee Foundation, Infantron Pte Ltd and Radha Exports Pte Ltd. To the many other partners, I applaud your contributions as well, because you have made a difference in the lives of our Down syndrome friends. So thank you all for your fervent support and let us keep the spirit of giving alive. I wish you an enjoyable evening.