#WantedlyVisits: APSN Centre for Adults

If Wantedly is where work drives passion, APSN is where passion sizzles on a griddle and baked to perfection with a cherry on top. As the biggest fans of purpose-driven passion, we took some time out on a Thursday morning in August to visit the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN).

Established in 1976, APSN is a social service organisation that provides holistic special education and vocational training to persons with mild intellectual disability (i.e. IQ between 50 – 70). APSN operates four schools for students aged 7 to 21, an APSN Student Care Centre, and an APSN Centre for Adults for persons aged 16 and older.

The Centre for Adults (CFA) is APSN’s vocational training centre that provides sheltered enterprise training and job placement opportunities for its beneficiaries. Here, trainees are prepared for the workforce through realistic on-the-job training and support services across several enterprise domains – Bakery, Café, Catering, Contract Work and more. Proceeds from APSN CFA’s enterprises are then distributed to the trainees as allowance and also channeled back to support APSN programmes.

Unforgiving as the sun was, we were reeling in excitement to tour the APSN CFA facility, hustle alongside the beneficiaries in one of their enterprise programmes and, of course, indulge in ASTONS’ menu of crowd favourites, specially cooked up at the APSN Café for All.

Our day at APSN CFA kicked off with a tour of the training workspaces, where we caught a glimpse of trainees in action in the industrial-grade training kitchens and bakeries, courtesy of industry partners like IHG. Some of these kitchens even require face and fingerprint recognition for access! It was like the Home Economics class of our dreams 😍

Besides kitchens, there are many other facilities for training and development, as well as dedicated rooms for Contract Work where trainees engage in production work. This involves manually packing and readying packages like pasting labels on commercial cartons or packing general items and goodie bags (e.g. antenatal bags), among others.

Blown away by the dedication of the trainees, we decided to try it out for ourselves and got right down to business assembling pastry boxes and packing antenatal bags for APSN’s partners.

From pasting labels and assembling boxes to filling bags with infant necessities for new moms, we got the chance to make new friends as we learned from the trainees pros.

That level of precision tho. Now, how many of us can admit to taking this much pride in our daily tasks?

Persons with mild intellectual disabilities experience significant limitations in adaptive skills like communication, safety, social skills and self-direction that are crucial to integrate with the community.

Despite this, it didn’t take long before we were joking around with the trainees, chatting about literally everything under the sun from our favourite holiday destinations to food, while trying to keep up with their expertly fast hands. At the end of the day, it didn’t feel any different from hanging out with a bunch of friends - except we were contributing to an incredible cause.

After all the hard work, it was time for lunch at APSN Café for All that was set up in partnership with ASTONS Express.

Immediately as we stepped into the restaurant, we were greeted by cheerful smiles of trainees eagerly trailing after us with menus featuring ASTON’s specialty Chargrilled Chicken and an exclusive Hebi Hiam Spaghetti.

At the left corner of its chalk-drawn menu, we spotted APSN Café for All’s heartwarming Pay-It-Forward initiative, where customers can pay $12 for someone else’s meal and leave a note for the person redeeming it.

And look whose post-it we spotted – President Halimah’s 🙌

Order up! We wasted no time digging in to these generous portions of scrumptious mains. The trainees were exceptionally professional and attentive to our order. If I had my eyes closed, I’d think that I was at the ASTON’s right by my home. On your next visit to an ASTON’s outlet, keep a lookout for APSN CFA alumni who have earned their employment there.

Behind the heartwarming flavours of freshly prepared meals are many hours of heart work put in by our friends from the APSN Centre for Adults. Our hearts were as full as our tummies at the end of the day; having spent such a meaningful afternoon with APSN trainees and knowing that the delightfully simple act of dining here has helped to enable them to be active contributors to society.

Stay tuned for our next Visit!

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