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Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore

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Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)
Founded 1962
Headquarters 800 Margaret Drive
Singapore 149307
Key people
President: Mr Jeffrey Tan
Hon Secretary: Mrs Doreen Yap
Chief Executive Officer: Mr Keh Eng Song

MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore) is a voluntary welfare organisation based in Singapore, that provides services for persons with moderate to severe intellectual disability. They run four special education schools three sheltered workshops, five day activity centres, a multi-service residential facility called MINDSville@Napiri which offers therapy and residential care, home-based care services and a caregivers’ support centre. To date, MINDS serves about 2,300 clients in the 14 facilities located island-wide and has received strong support from various funding bodies, the community, corporations and individuals. It is their vision to grow and become a world-class VWO that advances the development, well-being and aspirations of persons with intellectual disability and their integration back into society.

Founded in 1962, MINDS is among one of the oldest and largest charities in Singapore, with a staff strength of over 600 employees serving 2,300 over beneficiaries. Two other organisations, the Association for Persons with Special Needs (formerly the Association for the Educationally Subnormal) and Special Olympics Singapore, originated as MINDS projects.


The Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) was founded in May 1962 under the name of Singapore Association for Retarded Children (SARC). A group of philanthropists saw the need to provide equal opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities to receive education and later, to be integrated as contributing and responsible citizens in Singapore.

The Singapore Rotary Club gave the first donation to pilot the project under the Singapore Children’s Society and the first ‘Chin Pu’ (meaning progress) school was set up in a single room in Towner Road with 26 children.

‘Chin Pu’ centres mushroomed around the Island in whatever premises that were available – churches, disused schools, etc. In 1985, SARC was renamed MINDS to encompass the services provided not only for children, but adults and the aged persons with intellectual disability.

[1][2] Beginning with only two teachers and 26 students in a single classroom in Towner Road,[3][4] the new association rapidly expanded over the 1960s, building special schools at Margaret Drive and Jurong, a sheltered workshop at Geylang, a residential home at Tampines as well as their main administration centre, Lee Kong Chian Centre.[1][2] SARC started a subcommittee for services for those with less severe intellectual disabilities in 1971 and a youth volunteering group the year after;[2][5] the subcommittee was split into an independent organisation, the Association for the Educationally Subnormal (AESN), in 1976.[6] In 1983 SARC launched the first early intervention programme in Singapore, prompting other organisations to follow suit[2] and set up an adjunct subcommittee that became Special Olympics Singapore.[7]

Since the term "retarded" had acquired negative connotations and the organisation had started services for adults, SARC changed their name to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) in 1985.[8] In 1987, the organisation benefitted by being primarily funded from The Community Chest of Singapore,[3] and in 1993 MINDS became the largest voluntary welfare organisation in Singapore, with AESN in second place.[6] Relocation of the MINDS special schools, from premises of closed-down primary schools to new buildings with customised facilities, began in 1998.[9] The association started their first social enterprise, a car washing service along Pasir Panjang Road, in 2001.[10] Their residential homes and training centres were merged into the MINDSville@Napiri centre, which opened in 2007,[11] and the relocation programme was completed two years later.[4]


MINDS runs four special schools for intellectually disabled students aged 7 to 18, who are taught various life skills, such as personal grooming and money management. They are also taken on outings to learn how to handle common tasks, such as buying groceries and taking public transport. Students undergo physiotherapy, pre-vocational training, as well as basic instruction in some mainstream academic subjects, including languages, mathematics, art, and science.[4][12] To help the intellectually disabled gain employment, MINDS trains them for simple sorting and packing jobs at sheltered workshops, then negotiates contracts with potential employers: for example, some were hired by Singapore Airlines to recycle headsets.[13] The organisation also manages several social enterprises, including a thrift shop, a car washing service, a food catering company, and a performing arts troupe, that increase employment opportunities for the intellectually disabled.[3]

Under the MINDS Trusteeship Scheme, parents of the intellectually disabled can deposit their savings into a trust account, safeguarded by the public trustee, and after they die, MINDS ensures the money is used to fund caregiving of the beneficiary.[14] Other MINDS services, including counselling, behaviour therapy and rehabilitation, are concentrated at their integrated service centre called MINDSville@Napiri. The centre contains a nursing home for adults with high support needs, another home for intellectually disabled children from broken families, and a hostel, which provides flexible accommodation options for clients who need less-intensive care.[11] In addition, volunteers from the MINDS Youth Group conduct weekly educational, social, and recreational activities, such as swimming classes and singing sessions, for around 170 intellectually disabled people.[5]


MINDS is one of the oldest and largest voluntary welfare organisations in Singapore, with 600 over staff, 2300 beneficiaries. Their primary source of funding is from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry for Social and Family Development and donations from the Community Chest of Singapore, with programme fees, their social enterprises, corporate sponsorships and public donations making up their secondary sources.[3] The organisation is headed by President Jeffrey Tan and CEO Keh Eng Song,[15] who lead a 15-member executive committee with four subcommittees that meet monthly to discuss problems and plan new programmes.[6] MINDS has won several awards, including the 2001 President's Social Service Award from the National Council of Social Service and the 2010 Singapore Health Award (Gold) by the Health Promotion Board.[16][17]


  1. ^ a b "Country Report 1980 (Singapore)", Group Training Course on Intellectual Disabilities.
  2. ^ a b c d "Special Education Timeline", St Gabriel's Secondary Special Needs Centre. Archived from the original on 29 October 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Vivi Zainol, "Serving the intellectually disabled", The Straits Times, 27 August 2005.
  4. ^ a b c April Chong, "Special school in Sengkang opens", The Straits Times, 18 July 2009.
  5. ^ a b "MINDS Youth Group – Celebrating 35 Years of Volunteerism", Group Training Course on Intellectual Disabilities.
  6. ^ a b c Mardiana Abu Bakar, "Minds over matter", The Straits Times, 17 June 1993.
  7. ^ "About Us", Special Olympics Singapore. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Minds to help disabled grow with the times", The Straits Times, 12 June 1985.
  9. ^ "A school to put Minds pupils at ease", The Straits Times, 25 September 1998.
  10. ^ Lee Hui Chieh, "Intellectually disabled wash cars for wages.", The Straits Times, 4 September 2001.
  11. ^ a b "Trusteeship scheme for kids with intellectual disability taking shape", Channel NewsAsia, 14 April 2007.
  12. ^ Loh Chee Kong, "He'll weep, but he can now walk alone", TODAY, 19 August 2005.
  13. ^ Radha Basu, "Looking beyond disability", The Straits Times, 12 April 2008.
  14. ^ "MINDS to extend trusteeship scheme to give more help to the disabled", Channel NewsAsia, 28 October 2006.
  15. ^ Member Societies, Singapore Children's Charities.
  16. ^ "President's Social Service Award Past Winners – MINDS Youth Group", National Council of Social Service.
  17. ^ "Gold Awards Recipients 2010", Health Promotion Board.

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