It started off as a recreational club for people with disabilities 50 years ago, but the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) has evolved into a charity providing crucial services for persons with disabilities today, The Straits Times reports.
In 1969, a group of 23 people with disabilities – who are known as the association’s founding members – came together to set up HWA to socialise and organise activities for persons with disabilities.
“Most persons with disabilities felt lonely as there was very little integration with society then and very little accessibility (for wheelchair users), unlike today, where Singapore is a more inclusive society.” One of HWA’s key services, which started in 1980, is to provide transport services to help wheelchair users and people with disabilities to move around, to workplaces or the hospital for appointments. Back then, the public transport system was not wheelchair-friendly and taxis were costly, he added. Mr Wan said: “Without transport services, persons with disabilities were stuck at home.” HWA president Edmund Wan
Today, the association has 42 vehicles, such as buses and vans, to ferry persons with disabilities around at subsidised rates.