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Singapore Government

Preschoolers contribute over 500,000 hours to serve the community

Preschoolers contribute over 500,000 hours to serve the community

Some 20,000 children from over 300 pre-schools have contributed over 500,000 hours in the past 6 months to plan and participate in 316 community service projects for this year’s President’s Challenge Project, “Start Small Dream Big”. This is a five-fold increase in hours spent by children, compared to the inaugural run of the initiative last year. Their projects range from fund-raising for charity, serving the less fortunate, interacting with the elderly, caring for the environment, and expressing appreciation and kindness to their family members.

Together, the children raised more than $150,000 for President’s Challenge beneficiaries and other community organisations, including the Community Chest, St. John's Home for Elderly Persons, Persatuan Persuratan Pemuda Pemudi Melayu (Malay Youth Literary Association), Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, and Children’s Cancer Foundation. Beyond fund-raising, the true spirit of ‘Start Small Dream Big’ lies in inculcating positive values in our children, and nurturing in them, a culture of gratitude and giving back to society.

The children’s community service projects were showcased at the “Start Small Dream Big” Finale on Friday, 7 October 2016, in conjunction with Children’s Day. These projects were developed, planned and implemented by the children, with the support of their teachers and families.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam graced the event at the Singapore Sports Hub, accompanied by Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin. President Tan said, “I am delighted to see a new generation of young and compassionate Singaporeans participating in the President’s Challenge ‘Start Small Dream Big’ Project. The project has given our children small but invaluable opportunities to make positive changes to the world around them, and taught them to dream big.”

Minister Tan Chuan-Jin added, “I am extremely heartened to see many parents, pre-schools and the community working together to inculcate positive values in our little ones through ‘Start Small Dream Big’, so that they can all grow up to be kind, helpful and responsible citizens. By showing care and concern for the less fortunate around us, we can make Singapore a better home.”

One of the highlights of the event was a Carnival to raise funds for the President’s Challenge. The Carnival consisted of activity stations by government and commercial partners, as well as pre-school centres (refer to Annex A). Over 10,000 children, parents, teachers and guests attended the event.



1. What is the “Start Small Dream Big” Project?
The “Start Small Dream Big” Project was initiated by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to build an early childhood community that inculcates values in our children and encourages children to give back to society. It was first launched in 2015 as part of SG50 and the 15th anniversary of President’s Challenge, an annual series of fund-raising and volunteer activities. ECDA works with participating centres to design and implement community service projects over a period of six months. More information on Start Small Dream Big can be found at

2. What are the objectives of “Start Small Dream Big”?

As a society, we aspire to nurture each child holistically, including character building, so that they are well-prepared for life-long learning, active and responsible citizenry and success in later life. Through “Start Small Dream Big”, we hope to encourage young children to use their own resources and creativity to give back to society, and in the process, instil the spirit of giving and good values such as care for others, humility, kindness and compassion.

3. Who participated in “Start Small Dream Big” 2016?
Some 20,000 children participated in SSDB. Pre-schools were encouraged to involve and guide the children in developing, planning and implementing the community projects. Under the guidance of teachers, the children played an active role in deciding who they wanted to help and what they wanted to do. Parents were involved in supporting their child’s community projects.

4. What were some of the community projects that centres carried out?
The participating pre-school centres have come up with various types of meaningful community projects. For example, several pre-schools were involved in craft & bake sales and food donation drives for various charity organisations and elderly homes. Others were involved in caring for the environment, such as cleaning up the beach, parks and playgrounds. Some projects were closer to home, as they raised awareness on dengue and haze to their family and residents in the area. Children also extended their compassion for animals as they embarked on projects that care for animals and their welfare, including endangered animals and guide dogs for the visually handicapped.

5. Where were the preschool centres’ “Start Small Dream Big” projects showcased?

The community service projects by pre-school centres were showcased at the “Start Small Dream Big” Finale at the Singapore Sports Hub on Friday, 7 October 2016. An SSDB Commemorative Book has been published to share the projects implemented by over 300 centres. Participating SSDB centres would receive a copy of the book. An e-version of the book will be made available to the public.

6. Which community and government agencies has ECDA partnered with in 2016 for “Start Small Dream Big”?
ECDA has partnered with organisations such as the National Parks, Singapore Kindness Movement, National Library Board, National Environment Agency, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, TOUCH Community Services, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Health Promotion Board, Science Centre Singapore, and more. Through SSDB, our community partners are able to reach out to preschools to get their message heard and children involved in their mission. The children benefitted greatly from the useful resources and valuable learning opportunities they have provided.

7. What is the President’s Challenge?
The President’s Challenge is an annual community outreach and fund-raising campaign for beneficiaries selected every year by the President’s Office. It is a call to all Singaporeans in doing their part to build a more caring and inclusive society. Initiated by former President S R Nathan in 2000, the Challenge represents the coming together of people from all walks of life, to help the less fortunate. In 2012, under the leadership of President Tony Tan Keng Yam, the Challenge was expanded to go beyond fund-raising, by including volunteerism and social entrepreneurship. Funds raised through this year’s President’s Challenge campaign will be channelled to 58 beneficiary organisations across various sectors. More information on President’s Challenge can be found at

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