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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 Conrad Melville Campos
Hon Secretary: Mr Jeffrey Tan PBM
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 the intellectually disabled. They run four special schools and a centre called MINDSville@Napiri which offers therapy and residential care. Other MINDS services include sheltered workshops, social enterprises, weekly activities, and trust fund management. Founded in 1962, MINDS is among the largest charities in Singapore, with a staff of 420 helping 2400 beneficiaries. MINDS generates yearly expenses of 21 million Singapore dollars, as of 2005.[1] 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.


In 1960, the Singapore Children's Society initiated several educational and training programmes for intellectually disabled children, leading to the formation of the Singapore Association for Retarded Children (SARC) in 1962.[2][3] Beginning with only two teachers and 26 students in a single classroom in Towner Road,[1][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.[2][3] SARC started a subcommittee for services for those with less severe intellectual disabilities in 1971 and a youth volunteering group the year after;[3][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[3] 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,[1] 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 4 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.[1]

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 420 staff, 2400 beneficiaries, and yearly expenses of S$21 million Singapore dollars.[1] Their primary source of funding is the Community Chest of Singapore, with programme fees, their social enterprises, corporate sponsorships and public donations making up their secondary sources.[1] The organisation is headed by President Conrad Campos 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 c d e f Vivi Zainol, "Serving the intellectually disabled", The Straits Times, 27 August 2005.
  2. ^ a b "Country Report 1980 (Singapore)", Group Training Course on Intellectual Disabilities.
  3. ^ a b c d "Special Education Timeline", St Gabriel's Secondary Special Needs Centre. Archived from the original on 29 October 2011.
  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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