SINGAPORE: More people with disabilities (PWD) are participating in sport, with the Government exploring how a related master plan can make more progress, Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann told Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 5).
According to Sport Singapore’s (Sport SG) annual National Sports Participation Survey, slightly more than half – or 51 per cent – of PWDs participated in sport in 2018, an increase from the 28 per cent in 2015.
“We are encouraged by the growth in sports participation amongst persons with disabilities,” Ms Sim said.
She was responding to a question by Nominated Member of Parliament and para-athlete Yip Pin Xiu, who asked for a progress update on the Disability Sports Master Plan (DSMP) launched in May 2016.
The DSMP aims to develop Singapore’s capabilities in para sports and raise the profile of Team Singapore para-athletes.
Ms Sim said SportSG has been working with stakeholders since 2016 to implement the DSMP, setting up four Centres of Expertise, opening seven inclusive gyms and introducing a range of disability sport programmes.
One example is the Inclusive Sports Festival (ISF), which she said has been organised for three successive years and is a “key platform” for PWDs to try sports and an opportunity for the public to learn about disability sport.
“Altogether, the ISF and other awareness and outreach events have engaged more than 11,000 participants with disabilities and close to 90,000 others in the last three years,” she added.
Beyond participation, Ms Sim said SportSG works with key stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Education and Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC), to develop talent in disability sports.
For instance, she said SportSG provides SDSC with financial resources and facilities to support the training of athletes in various para sports, adding that 10 out of the current crop of 72 spexScholars are para-athletes.
“Team Singapore para-athletes received campaign funding in their preparations for the upcoming ASEAN Para Games in January next year,” she added.
Ms Sim said SportSG also partnered the International Paralympic Committee to grow the pool of disability sports coaches in Singapore, highlighting that 500 coaches, 300 SportSG staff and 1,600 volunteers have completed relevant courses to support disability sport programmes.
While Ms Sim said the DSMP has made good progress, she said the ministry is continually exploring how to increase its impact, adding that SportSG in August published a progress review in its Vision 2030 mid-term report.
“SportSG stated in its report that it will broaden its range of partnerships to include corporations and organisations to form ‘Communities of Care’ that can serve the community in impactful ways, such as by supporting the DSMP and promoting social inclusion through sport,” she stated.
“We welcome ideas and suggestions from the Member and others in the sport and special needs communities to improve the implementation of the DSMP.”