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Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore

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Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)
Headquarters800 Margaret Drive
Singapore 149307
Key people
President: Mr Jeffrey Tan
Hon Secretary: Ms Doreen Yap
Chief Executive Officer: Mr Tony Tan See-Boon

Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) 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, and day activity centre. Founded in 1962, MINDS is among the largest charities in Singapore, with over 600 staff and 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 and Metta School were formed as an offshoot of MINDS.


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] Medical social worker, Daisy Vaithilingam, was involved in the creation of the group.[4] Along with Vaithliningam in the creation of MINDS were Warren Fox, Ena Aeria, Freda Paul.[5] After running the pilot project with the go-ahead of the Singapore Children's Society, they applied for funding from the Rotary Club and received a grant of $10,000.[5]

Beginning with only two teachers and 26 students in a single classroom in Towner Road,[1][6] 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][7] the subcommittee was split into an independent organisation, the Association for the Educationally Subnormal (AESN), in 1976.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[8] Relocation of the MINDS special schools, from premises of closed-down primary schools to new buildings with customised facilities, began in 1998.[11] The association started their first social enterprise, a car washing service along Pasir Panjang Road, in 2001.[12] Their residential homes and training centres were merged into the MINDSville@Napiri centre, which opened in 2007,[13] and the relocation programme was completed two years later.[6]


MINDS runs:

  • 4 Special Education Schools
  • The 4 MINDS schools offer four programs; Pre-School, Junior, Senior and Special programs for pupils who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and are severely disabled intellectually or have challenging behaviours. The curriculum is tailored to suit the special needs of individual children and the focus is on the functional needs of the pupils for the present and the future. Areas of learning include language communication, functional academics such as time telling, money value, self-help skills and personal grooming, social competency and pre-vocational skills. To promote the holistic development of pupils, the schools have within their curriculum time, physical education, music and swimming. A multidisciplinary team of Allied Health Professionals in each school, such as psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists, ensures a holistic approach to the development of pupils and support for their families.
  • 3 Employment and Development Centres (EDCs)

  • The Employment Development Centres continuously seek to increase their diversity of contract work, in-house industries, social enterprises and job placements into open employment for persons with intellectual disability. These efforts go towards providing income for the trainees to pay for their own transport, food and leisure. But more importantly, with jobs to do, persons with intellectual disability can hold their heads high in society as ‘contributors’.
  • 6 Training and Development Centres (TDCs)

  • The Training and Development Centres service clients with more challenging behaviours, or have a greater degree of special needs that require continuous professional help. Extensive training is provided through a multi-disciplinary team to modify behaviours and improve independent living skills so that some may eventually be transferred to sheltered workshops or even prepared for open employment.
  • 2 Residential Homes (one for adults, one for children) + 1 Hostel/Group Home (for adults)

  • MINDSville@Napiri is a multi-service centre in Lorong Napiri run by MINDS. It replaces two former MINDS Homes for intellectually disabled adults and includes Singapore’s first home for intellectually disabled children, aged six to 18. With a total capacity of about 310, the centre can accommodate the Home and Hostel/Group Home, Napiri Training & Development Centre and Children’s Wing
  • 1 Caregivers Support Centre

  • The Caregivers Support Services Centre provides a range of services to empower and support caregivers in their care for their charges with special needs, enabling carers to maintain a balance between their caring responsibilities and a life outside caring.
  • 1 Social Integration Programme (Me Too! Club) & Home-Based Care Services

  • Me Too! Club is a programme to enhance the social integration of people with intellectual disabilities (PWIDs) through leisure and befriending activities. It is best suited for PWIDs who cannot participate in community-based services due to health reasons and/or other reasons or would prefer a less intensive programme. Me Too! Club offers age-appropriate activities that cater to the interests of persons with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities.
  • 1 Appropriate Adult (AA) programme

  • The Appropriate Adult (AA) Service provides support to Singapore Police Force (SPF), Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) during the investigating interviews involving detainees, victims or witnesses suspected of having Intellectual Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or Mental Health issues.

    The role of the Appropriate Adult is not to provide legal advice to the police detainee/suspect/witness. Their role is to act as a bridge between the Investigation Officer and the police detainee/suspect/witness to enable him/her to communicate more effectively during the police interview. This means that the police detainee/suspect/witness does not misunderstand the questions asked or that he/she is not misunderstood by the Investigation Officer, ensuring that statements recorded are reliable.

    All applicants will have to attend a mandatory one-day training session and selection process. Training sessions will be held depending on demand, and the dates will be publicised.


MINDS is one of the oldest and largest voluntary welfare organisations in Singapore, with over 600 staff, 2400 beneficiaries.

The organisation is headed by President Jeffrey Tan and CEO Tony Tan See-Boon,[14] who lead a 15-member executive committee with 10 subcommittees that meet monthly to discuss problems and plan new programmes.[8] 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.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b c Vivi Zainol, "Serving the intellectually disabled", The Straits Times, 27 August 2005.
  2. ^ a b "Country Report 1980 (Singapore) Archived 2017-11-08 at the Wayback Machine", 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. ^ Koh, Jaime (2012). Singapore Childhood: Our Stories Then And Now. World Scientific. pp. 129–130. ISBN 9789814405799.
  5. ^ a b Ng, Beng Yeong (2001). Till the Break of Day: A History of Mental Health Services in Singapore, 1841-1993. NUS Press. p. 261. ISBN 9789971692452.
  6. ^ a b April Chong, "Special school in Sengkang opens", The Straits Times, 18 July 2009.
  7. ^ "MINDS Youth Group – Celebrating 35 Years of Volunteerism Archived 2017-11-08 at the Wayback Machine", Group Training Course on Intellectual Disabilities.
  8. ^ a b c Mardiana Abu Bakar, "Minds over matter", The Straits Times, 17 June 1993.
  9. ^ "About Us", Special Olympics Singapore. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013.
  10. ^ "Minds to help disabled grow with the times", The Straits Times, 12 June 1985.
  11. ^ "A school to put Minds pupils at ease", The Straits Times, 25 September 1998.
  12. ^ Lee Hui Chieh, "Intellectually disabled wash cars for wages.", The Straits Times, 4 September 2001.
  13. ^ "Trusteeship scheme for kids with intellectual disability taking shape", Channel NewsAsia, 14 April 2007.
  14. ^ Member Societies Archived 2012-02-28 at the Wayback Machine, Singapore Children's Charities.
  15. ^ "President's Social Service Award Past Winners – MINDS Youth Group Archived 2011-09-09 at the Wayback Machine", National Council of Social Service.
  16. ^ "Gold Awards Recipients 2010[permanent dead link]", Health Promotion Board.

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