A [email protected] trainee working as a cashier during a jumble sale held on Nov 20.

Denise Chan, 23, was one of several adults with intellectual challenges who manned a jumble sale recently.

The Nov 20 activity, held on the grounds of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was organised by [email protected], a project of the Catholic Welfare Services.

Since Nov 2009, [email protected] has been providing vocational training and supporting employment for adults with intellectual challenges.

The jumble sale, held every quarter, aims to help these adults put their skills to use and interact with the public.

Miss Chan told CatholicNews she did not have any difficulty working as a cashier at the sale and completing all the tasks at hand.

She is one of nine adults, whose ages range from 20s to 40s, who attend activities at the [email protected] centre, located on the grounds of the church.

Miss Chan said she enjoys learning skills, and taking part in games and outings at [email protected] She said she particularly likes the art and craft sessions and hopes to become a “true artist” in the future.

[email protected] “is a good place to be in for my daughter”, said her mother, Patricia. The “trainers are supportive” and have “given her a sense of belonging”, boosting her self-confidence, she added.

[email protected] provides its trainees with training in janitorial, retail, customer service, gardening, and art and craft skills. Part of the curriculum involves managing a thrift shop at the centre’s grounds every Monday

The initiative aims to help the trainees be self-sufficient, able to work and lead independent lives.

Most of the trainees are Catholics.

Centre administrator Lily Wee said her organisation tries to place the trainees in jobs suitable to the individual’s strength and interest. The trainee will be assessed over a period and when deemed ready, would be given on-the-job training.

Ms Wee acknowledged the challenge in getting employers to hire these people as employers may feel these adults are not able to be as productive as others. But Ms Wee said that with the correct instructions, these “high functioning” adults are able to perform their tasks well.

Ms Wee also pointed out that parental support is essential in caring for the intellectually challenged child.

Some parents prefer to keep their child shielded from the outside world, thus not giving them “the opportunity to be reached out to”, said Ms Wee.

Ms Wee said she hopes to increase the enrolment at [email protected] and encourages parents who have intellectually challenged children to come forward.

For more information on [email protected], call 6284 8010

By Darren Boon
[email protected]