First Vertical Farming training programme in Singapore for Persons with Mild Intellectual Disability (MID)
Singapore, 8 June 2016 – APSN Centre for Adults (CFA) celebrated the Official Opening of their Centre graced by Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development & MP for Marine Parade GRC on 8 June 2016.
APSN CFA was established in 1986 when the vocational training centre was then housed at APSN Chaoyang School. After several moves and transformation, this new Centre now sits at 11 Jalan Ubi, Block 4 #01-31 Singapore 409074 at Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Hub where several other VWOs are also present.
“The close proximity of the various VWOs in the Community Hub provides opportunities for VWOs to collaborate and share best practices and resources. Through these collaborations, everyone within the Hub, including staff, caregivers, beneficiaries and volunteers can co-exist and explore areas where they can support each other to serve clients better”, said Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in his opening speech.
The Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) is celebrating its 40th Anniversary of service to the special needs community and what better way to celebrate than to have a new fully operational Centre for Adults which houses 120 clients. APSN CFA provides sheltered work, training and job placement for their beneficiaries. They are venturing into setting up various social enterprises and has already started one; the bakery social enterprise which is housed in its Centre.
“As labour intensive factories are either turning to automation or are moving out of Singapore, simple factory work is getting less over the years. APSN CFA has recently started the Bakery Social Enterprise and is looking at creating work by turning some of the programmes into sheltered enterprises. The clients will join the sheltered enterprises as interns for one year and are given an allowance. After the one year, our job coaches will assist them in finding a job” said Mr Winston Wong, APSN Vice-President and Chairman of APSN Centre for Adults Management Committee.
The opening showcased the newly renovated Centre with all its new realistic training rooms & therapy room equipped with the latest equipment which allows for achieving better results in the healing and training of their clients. It will also be the first time where APSN CFA would have all their training rooms air-conditioned which allows conduciveness for daily operations with minimal disruption to the activities in the Centre in the event of recent prevailing hot weather and haze issues.
The main highlight of the opening was the Vertical Farm which is part of horticulture training programme in APSN CFA .This is the very first Vertical Farm in Singapore that is used for training purposes for Persons with Mild Intellectual Disability. The clients are taught the steps of germination to the process of harvesting the crop. They are also taught the mechanics (transplanting, maintenance, soil care and mixing) and magic behind growing the crops. The vegetables of the successful crops will be sold and the income generated will be ploughed back to the running and operational cost of APSN CFA. Minister Tan did the first official harvesting and had a try in the germination process with one of the APSN CFA client.
Benefits of being part of the horticulture programme is that the clients would be continually exposed to farming experiences on a limited land environment. This exposure together with the other parts of the horticulture programme such as plant nursery, soil mixing, application of fertilizers etc. will allow the clients to apply the knowledge to the landscaping industry.
APSN CFA is currently funded by MSF and NCSS and any shortfall is funded by public donations.