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Singapore Government

Inclusion in Recreation, Leisure and Sport

Inclusion in Recreation, Leisure and Sport

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Header banner for Inclusion in recreation, leisure, and sport, depicting persons with disabilities swimming, and playing racquet sports.

More Accessible Sports

In 1973, the then Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and 8 organisations jointly founded the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC).
  • SDSC is the national sports body for persons with disabilities, and aims to transform the lives of PwDs through sports as a form of rehabilitative therapy and means to realise their potential.
  • It was the only organisation in Singapore that offered a wide range of sports at both the elite and recreational levels across all disability groups.
  • Besides providing platforms to learn sport, SDSC trains talents to represent Singapore at regional and international competitions.
  • Persons with disabilities in the SDSC participated in a wide range of international and regional competitions including the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) Para Games, the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled (FESPIC) games, the Commonwealth games, the Asian Para Games and the Paralympics.

Special Olympics (SO) Singapore was set up in April 1983 as an adjunct committee of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) and the organisation is now known as the Association for Persons with Special Needs (ASPN) (formerly known as Association for Educationally Sub-Normal Children).
  • SO Singapore is affiliated to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), and recognised by Sport Singapore as a National Sports Association (NSA).
  • SO Singapore provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
  • SO Singapore currently offers 9 sports out of the 32 official sports recognised by Special Olympics.
  • These activities provide the children and adults with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.

The Singapore National Paralympic Council launched a new financial reward scheme – the Athlete Achievement Award (AAA) for para-athletes who win medals at major international competitions.
  • The Tote Board is the primary sponsor of the AAA, which provides a cash payout to athletes who contribute to Singapore’s gold, silver or bronze medal tally in major games – such as Paralympic Games, the Asian Para Games and the Commonwealth Games, and athletes who contribute a gold medal in the ASEAN Para Games.

In 2015, Singapore hosted the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG), a milestone in Singapore’s para-sports history.
  • Singapore was represented by 152 athletes across 15 sports, the largest Singapore contingent to date for the APG.
  • Team Singapore achieved its best ever haul of 24 golds, 17 silvers and 22 bronzes at the games.
  • Hosting the APG for the first time generated widespread public awareness amongst Singaporeans on the disability sports movement. This event demonstrated how sport can be a means to foster inclusive communities.

In 2016, MCCY launched the Disability Sports Masterplan (DSMP).
  • The DSMP is anchored in the belief of Sport Without Boundaries to enhance access and opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in sport. DSMP brings major players in the disability ecosystem together through the following thrusts to work towards a more inclusive society through sport. 
  • Expand Access and Opportunities for Participation: To reduce the infrastructural and transport barriers to sport participation by persons with disabilities and provide a range of sporting opportunities for persons with disabilities to sustain participation in sports across the life stages. 
  • Develop Organisational and Professional Capabiliies: To improve the processes and synergies between different players in the ecosystem and grow the pool of sports professionals and educators with the necessary expertise in disability sport. 
  • Build Awareness and Strengthen Affinity: To increase public mindshare on the benefits of disability sports, raise awareness of the opportunities for participation, and build a stronger support network for Team Singapore athletes. 
  • Under the DSMP, sport has become increasingly accessible across the nation, with once-a-week sports participation rates among persons with disabilities increasing from 28% in 2015 to 51% in 2018. 

In 2016, the first of the Centre of Expertise (COE) for disability sports, Sengkang Sports Centre, was officially launched in conjunction with the launch of “Yes! I Can” disability sport programmes.
  • The COE provides greater access to accessible sports facilities and programmes.
  • At least one existing sports centre within each residential zone will be retrofitted to provide PwDs with enhanced accessibility to sports facilities and other amenities.
  • Yes! I Can is an 8-12 week-long beginner level disability sports programme, that includes activities such as swimming, badminton, wheelchair rugby and goalball.

Accessible Arts and Culture

In 2015, the National Arts Council (NAC) launched the biennial Arts and Disability Forum.
  • This forum facilitates knowledge-sharing and discussions on innovation in artistic practice, inclusive community engagement and multi-sectorial partnerships to advance inclusivity and access in the arts.
  • Participants, artists, speakers and panellists with and without disabilities from Singapore and beyond take part in the Forum, and their access needs are supported to ensure inclusivity.
  • After three editions of the Forum, an Arts and Disability International Conference was organised in 2018.

Since 2016, the primary caregiver accompanying persons with disabilities on visits to any National Heritage Board institution enjoys free admission.


In 2019, the National Arts Council (NAC) partnered Very Special Arts Singapore, British Council, Singapore International Foundation and Mediacorp Enable Fund to organise the SYNC Singapore Programme.
  • The 5-day intensive training programme was specially designed for artists and arts managers with disability to develop their leadership skills and arts careers, focusing on their natural skills, talents and lived experience.

Increased opportunities for meaningful interactions in socio-communal spaces from early stages of life

Since 2017, NCSS and NParks have built a total of 13 inclusive playgrounds around Singapore.
  • The playgrounds are located at West Coast Park, Admiralty Park, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, Sengkang Riverside Park, Fort Canning Park, Jurong Lake Gardens, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Marine Cove at East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park, Ghim Moh, Tampines, Our Tampines Hub, and Bukit Panjang.

Since April 2019, NCSS worked with the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore (MDAS) to enhance the Children in Action (CIA) initiative to promote inclusive play among children of different abilities.
  • CIA promotes inclusive play among children with different abilities by engaging them in a wide array of play and skill-based activities. The programme now includes all forms of play.

More opportunities to participate in sports through inclusive sport facilities and sport programmes

Since 2017, the Singapore National Para Games has been incorporated into the Singapore National Games, which is held in conjunction with the GetActive! Singapore week.
  • Sport Singapore has worked with the Singapore Disability Sport Council (SDSC) to introduce para sports into the Singapore National Games (SNG) from 2017.
  • Singapore Disability Sport Council has hosted international competitions, such as the Singapore 2019 World Para Swimming World Series and the Micron World Para Bowling Tour Series to provide opportunities for persons with disabilities to compete with regional counterparts. It has also organised annual championships in athletics and swimming, and competitions in para cycling and para equestrian.

Para events have been introduced in the National School Games, to promote awareness and inclusiveness among students.
  • Para events were introduced in these sports from 2016 – Swimming, Track & Field, Ten-Pin Bowling and Shooting.
  • From 2019, the following new provisions were implemented:
    • Suitable SPED school students (who do not require any form of specialised support) can register to participate in individual/team non-contact sports at regular SNG competitions without modification of rules.
    • Combined teams may be formed between two SPED schools, or one SPED and one mainstream school to participate at regular SNG competitions.

SportSG has been rolling out accessible facilities across ActiveSG Sports Centres.
  • Inclusive gyms with exercise machines suitable for use by persons with disabilities, seniors and other regular gym users have been installed in eight locations across Singapore (Enabling Village, Heartbeat@Bedok, Our Tampines Hub, Toa Payoh Sports Centre, ActiveSG Hockey Village @ Boon Lay, ActiveSG Park @ Jurong Lake Gardens, Silver Circle ActiveSG Gym @ Serangoon and Ang Mo Kio Community Centre).
  • SportSG is on track to outfit all ActiveSG gyms to convert them into inclusive gyms by 2026.
  • Swimming pools with ramps into the pool and aquatic wheelchairs are available at six ActiveSG Sports Centres (Sengkang, Pasir Ris, Heartbeat @Bedok, Our Tampines Hub, Jurong Lake Gardens and Jurong West).

In 2017, SportSG launched the annual Inclusive Sports Festival (ISF).
  • The ISF was launched at Our Tampines Hub as part of SportSG’s annual GetActive! Singapore initiative.
  • Originally positioned as a mass outreach event to allow PwDs and members of the public to try out disability sports, the event now takes place annually and has evolved to feature more co-created workshops, activities and try-outs.
  • Participation at the Festival has been on the rise. In 2019, it saw 25,000 participants with and without disabilities, and 30 different activities and workshops.

Since 2018, SportSG and the Special Olympics Singapore have been co-organising the Play Inclusive Event, with the support of MOE.  
  • Play Inclusive brought student-athletes from SPED and mainstream schools to share sporting experiences as members of the same team.
  • Teams that comprised athletes with intellectual disabilities and students from mainstream schools trained together in the preceding months before the competition.
  • In 2019, the sport of goalball was included in the competition, and fielded, for the first time, ahtletes with visual impairment. 
  • Close to 400 players took part in the inaugural Play Inclusive in 2018 and grew to more than 700 players in 2019, making it the largest Unified Sports event in Singapore.
  • The 2020's edition of the competition was Sport Reimagined, considering safe management measures due to COVID-19, with over 100 participants and their unified sports partners forming teams on virtual platforms to exercise together from six to eight weeks, culminating in the first Hybrid Finale in November 2020.  

In 2018, the PlayAbility programme, sponsored by Temasek Foundation Cares, was launched.
  • The programme provides recreational sports opportunities in water and court activities (e.g. Flippa ball, badminton) for persons with disabilities weekly.

In 2019, Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) partnered MOE to pilot a 5D4N Inclusive Sailing programme.
  • 56 students from five mainstream secondary schools and four SPED schools took part in the pilot.
  • The programme promotes social inclusion and outdoor education through a shared experience for students with and without special needs.

In 2019, SportSG launched the Intro a Sport programme.
  • The pilot matches staff from SPED schools or centres for adults with disabilities with experienced sport/fitness coaches to co-create a ten-week sport /PE programme. This programme provides the opportunity for staff of SPED schools or adult centres to learn how to organise physical education effectively, and for sport coaches to gain more experience in coaching persons with disabilities through the programme. 
  • Starting with a train-the-trainer learning phase and ending with supervised practical sessions, this initiative is designed to ensure sustainability of sporting activities in schools and organisations.

In 2019, MCCY launched a $12 million SportCares Communities of Care Fund (CoCF) aimed at benefitting vulnerable individuals including persons with disabilities.
  • The fund provides four types of grants and support:
    • Development Grant: Up to $200,000 provided per intermediary per year. The grant is awarded to strong community partners that work directly with SportCares to reach new constituent groups and kickstart a vibrant ecosystem of sport for social good.
    • Starter Grant: Offers up to $50,000 to individuals or organisations with innovative sport-based ideas that help communities grow and improve.
    • Research Grant: Pays up to 100% of associated costs to support research that strengthens evidence for sport-based social development and community empowerment initiatives.
    • SportCares Bursaries: Offers financial help to children from low-income families, youth, seniors and persons with disabilities to participate in sports programmes.

In June 2021, SportSG will be launching the Social Service Corporate Membership scheme.
  • With this scheme, SportSG hopes to reach over 13000 new members from special education schools and social service agencies serving persons with disabilities by making ActiveSG facilities more accessible to such organisations. 
  • Member organisations will enjoy advanced booking of all ActiveSG facilities, and will be given $1000 worth of ActiveSG credits that can be used to book its facilities and programmes. 
  • Beneficiaries of these organisations will also enjoy free entry to all ActiveSG gyms and swimming pools. 

Accessible Arts and Culture

Since 2018, the National Heritage Board (NHB) has set out to make museums more inclusive and accessible under the “Our SG Heritage Plan”.
  • Several national museums and heritage institutions now have large-print format guides, sensory maps and access-friendly entry points. In 2020, NHB commissioned two audits to review the accessibility of its museums and heritage institutions.
  • Efforts of the Asian Civilisation Museum (ACM):
    • In June 2019, ACM launched a four-day inclusive children’s art camp “Project Dream Weavers”, that allowed children of all abilities to work together to create outfits inspired by the special exhibition Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture. Children wore their creations on a fashion runway show as part of the exhibition’s weekend festival in July 2019.
    • In January 2020, ACM partnered Dialogue in the Dark to provide 20 interactive dark tours during the Light to Night Festival. These tours were conducted by visually impaired guides and made use of ACM’s handling collection (a collection with objects that can be handled by visitors).
    • For Children’s Season 2020, ACM engaged the disability SSA, SPD, to employ persons with disabilities to assemble and pack craft kits for children. These were delivered to 500 children from seven social service agencies who attended online workshops conducted by an art therapist.
    • The ACM has developed audio description tours – the first museum in Singapore to do so – of key objects and large print guides, in consultation with the Singapore Association Of The Visually Handicapped (SAVH).
  • Efforts of the National Museum of Singapore (NMS):
    • In 2019, NMS started offering monthly Senior-Friendly Tours. The hourly tours are led by the museum’s Care Facilitators, who will be paired to one or two seniors and their accompanying caregivers. Care Facilitators lead the group through the selected galleries while engaging seniors in conversations and encouraging them to share their memories and experiences. [Note: These tours are suspended due to COVID-19]
    • In 2019, NMS launched a Quiet Room to provide a safe space for visitors who might experience sensory overload, in particular children with autism, and need a private space in which to calm down. Key features of the Quiet Room include a padded womb-like chamber, soft even lighting allowing caregivers to select colours and brightness levels to suit the child’s preferences, and geometric-shaped cushions that the child can hug for soothing purposes. Visitors can approach a Visitor Services or security officer whenever they need to access the room.
    • The Quiet Room serves to complement Quiet Mornings, designated as the first Saturday (9am to 11am) and the first and third Thursdays (9am to 12 noon) of each month. On Quiet Mornings, NMS aims to create a quieter and more relaxing environment and therefore declines group visits. Quiet Mornings have been suspended from February 2020 in view of COVID-19. Dates will be updated here when Quiet Mornings resume. 
    • Since 2018, NMS has a dedicated Accessibility webpage with pre-visit resources and information on the amenities at the museum for visitors with additional needs. There are also sensory bags available for loan from the visitor service counter for families with children with special needs. Each bag contains a ear defender, sensory maps, a visual schedule and sensory toys. 
    • Since 2018, NMS has also created two Sensory Maps which identify high sensory areas as well as areas that are quieter, well-lit and less crowded, or rest spots for both the entire musuem space, as well as its main permanent gallery- Singapore History Gallery. 
  • Efforts of the Singapore Arts Museum (SAM)
    • In 2017, SAM started the “Quiet Hour at SAM” programme, an initiative that provides free transportation to and from the museum for closed-door access to SAM’s exhibitions, as well as tailored tours and workshops for special needs visitors. In the same year, SAM established a Quiet Room at the museum, ensuring children or visitors with special needs have a calming space to retreat to, should they become over-stimulated by external environments or interactions.
    • In 2018, SAM launched a portable and interactive collection of artwork adaptations, the SAM Touch Collection, specifically developed to travel and engage with the visually-impaired community. The artwork adaptations are accompanied by supplementary resources and materials, such as audio guides and reproductions of finer artwork details to enhance interaction and understanding. The SAM Touch Collection continues to be developed, beginning with research and focus group sessions that started in 2014. With more artwork adaptations in the pipeline by other Singaporean artists, it will continue to be shaped through feedback and research sessions with communities and schools. The SAM Touch Collection may later be made available for other community groups, such as the elderly and those with special needs, after more research has been carried out.
  • Efforts of the National Gallery Singapore:
    • To create a welcoming space, the National Gallery Singapore partnered the Disabled People’s Association (DPA) and Levelfields Consultants to conduct an access audit of the Gallery. With support of the Inclusion Ambassadors of DPA, they developed an Access Guide – a public document that provides information to help visitors with access requirements to prepare for their visit to the Gallery.
    • To better engage with various community groups, the National Gallery Singapore developed programmes such as Gallery Signs, Sister Guides and Dialect tours during the 2019 Children’s Biennale. These programmes reduce linguistic barriers by conducting tours in various languages, thereby bringing the installations of the festival alive.
  • Efforts of the heritage institutions:
    • In 2020, the NHB launched “Be My Robo Date” at the heritage institutions – Indian Heritage Centre, Malay Heritage Centre, and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall – to allow their galleries to be accessible to those who cannot physically visit. Through this programme, users can pre-register online for a slot to remotely control a mobile telepresence robot through the galleries and converse with a guide on-site to learn more about the artefacts and stories on display.

Key arts and cultural institutions reviewed their physical infrastructure and programming to make them more inclusive and accessible.
  • The Arts House Limited has lifts, accessible washrooms and ramps at its premises.
  • Spaces like The Drama Centre and Victoria Theatre/Victoria Concert Hall are guide-dog friendly, and have provisions for removable seats for wheelchair users.
  • In 2019, Singapore Chinese Orchestra renovated its premise to comply with Building and Construction Authority’s “Code on Barrier-Free Accessibility in Building”.
  • Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay has rolled out several inclusive programmes throughout the years:
    • PLAYtime!, an interactive theatre series for children aged 2 to 6. As part of every production, some performances are specially designed as sensory-friendly ones that allow families and children with autism, and those with sensory or cognitive sensitivities, to enjoy learning through the performing arts.
    • Beautiful Sunday, a series of free monthly concerts by homegrown music groups in the Concert Hall, are open to persons of all abilities.
    • A music truck initiative Esplanade On The Go piloted in November 2020 brought live performances to eldercare facilities serving seniors with different cognitive and physical abilities, as well as other inclusive programmes that involve people with different abilities throughout the year.
    • Visit Esplanade’s website for upcoming programmes, visitor accessibility information, or contact its Customer Experience for more information.

Since 2018, NHB’s Museum Roundtable has been helping staff and volunteers in the museum sector improve their ability to support visitors with disabilities.
  • Since 2018, training has been conducted for security guards, frontline staff, programming and visitor experience staff, volunteers and gallery sitters on various types of accessibility needs, as well as how to interact with visitors with disabilities, to make the entire experience more seamless.
  • In 2019, an Accessibility Community of Practice was established amongst Museum Roundtable members to promote the exchange of best practices on accessibility for museums.
  • In 2019, NMS introduced the first batch of Care Facilitators, a group of volunteers at NMS that focus on supporting the museum’s care initiatives. They facilitate and support the running of the museum’s signature programmes for seniors, visitors with dementia and visitors with special needs.

Continuous efforts by the National Heritage Board (NHB) to work with partners to co-design and co-deliver arts and cultural programmes for targeted audience segments.
  • In 2018, the Peranakan Museum (TPM) partnered with the Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) to work with seniors with dementia to put up a digital photography exhibition in conjunction with World Alzheimer’s Month in September. The series of photographs were also exhibited in the “Space, Time and Memories” of the Amek Gambar special exhibition at TPM.
  • In 2019, NHB launched Reminiscence Walks, a programme jointly developed with SAGE Counselling Centre and designed to enhance the psychological and social well-being of seniors through guided tours of selected traditional trades found in historic precincts such as Kampong Gelam. NHB plans to extend the programme beyond the historic precincts to co-create more Reminiscence Walks along other heritage trails sites in the heartlands.
  • In 2019, the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) partnered AWWA (Asian Women’s Welfare Association) to trial “ACM in Motion”, the first run of a series of five movement-based workshops designed to introduce visitors with disabilities and their caregivers to basic performance skills that were connected to the objects on display in the galleries. Participants turned their stories into song, poetry, and movement.

There are more opportunities for inclusion in arts performances and in national celebrations.
  • At National School Games, Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation and the National Day Parade, students with and without SEN rehearse, practice and perform together.
  • In August 2020, ArtsWok Collaborative, supported by National Arts Council, organised the M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival. This annual youth theatre festival has staged productions on important social issues since 2016. The 2020 festival focuses on disability, and aims to encourage more opportunities in mainstream platforms, such as theatre, for artists with disability.
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