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“Our Lives, Our Voices” and the Peer Support Specialist (PSS) Programme

14 Jul 2021

Jointly developed by MINDS and Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), “Our Lives, Our Voices” seeks to train and empower persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 8-week programme covers topics such as self-identity, personal hopes and ambitions, recognising emotions, setting goals and communication techniques. 

As at March 2020, 77 participants have been through the programme, which has equipped them to be better able to express themselves to others. Post-programme evaluation also showed positive outcomes in participants’ oral language skills and well-being.

Image of Judith Teo, Participant of Our Lives, Our Voices Programme

Born with Down Syndrome and a quiet personality, Judith Teo, 26, enjoys reading and dancing with a small circle of family and friends. However, she lacked the confidence to carry out some activities independently.

After Judith started attending the “Our Lives, Our Voices” programme, her mother recognised some positive changes in her daughter.

On top of travelling to work independently and planning an outing to the zoo with friends, Judith learnt how to advocate for herself. When she was asked to undergo a COVID-19 swab test as part of her work at All Saints Home, Judith was apprehensive. But she took the initiative to inform nurses of her Down Syndrome and that they should be careful as she has narrow nostrils. “They heard her loud and clear and decided to swab her throat. Much more comfortable for her,” said Mrs Teo proudly.

Judith said, “This programme has taught me to be independent, and realise that I have the right to speak up for myself and for others. I have also learnt how to set goals and take small steps to achieve them.”

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Judith Teo,
Participant of Our Lives, Our Voices Programme

 

The Peer Support Specialist (PSS) Programme was launched to enable persons with mental health conditions to provide formalised and structured support to others on their recovery journey. As at March 2021, 98 peer support specialists have been trained and 45 were employed as peer support specialists and/or were conducting peer-related work. PSS graduates also stepped forward as ambassadors for the Beyond the Label campaign by sharing their recovery journey with others, facilitating activities and engaging the public to reduce stigma towards persons with mental health conditions. 

Image of Sharon Wong, 2019 Graduate from the Peer Support Specialist Programme

Sharon was in an abusive relationship when she was first introduced to drugs. After rehabilitation, she was encouraged to join the PSS Programme by her counsellors and friends.

“Through the programme, I’ve gained a better understanding of myself and emerged more self-aware and resilient,” said Sharon. She hopes to continue her volunteer work and apply the skills that she has learnt in her daily interactions with peers in recovery.

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Sharon Wong,

2019 Graduate from the Peer Support Specialist Programme