1 The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) launched the ninth edition of its President’s Challenge initiative, ‘Start Small Dream Big’ (SSDB) today. This year, 77,000 children from 1,130 preschools have joined the movement, which seeks to inculcate positive values, such as kindness, compassion and respect. This is more than a nine-fold increase in participation since the movement started in 2015, when 8,000 children from 150 preschools pledged their commitment to serve the community as part of the SG50 celebrations.
2 This year’s theme, “Many Helping Hands, Caring for Everyone”, embodies the spirit of the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners where we recognise the contributions of our partners. It encourages preschools, families and community partners to work together to empower children to provide care and support to people around them. The SSDB theme is also in line with this year’s President’s Challenge’s focus on “Caring for Caregivers”, where a whole-of-society effort is required to equip caregivers with the right mindset, skills, and resources to manage their caregiving duties.
3 President Halimah Yacob, who launched this year’s edition of SSDB at E-Bridge Pre-School (Sengkang Square), said, “Through ‘Start Small Dream Big’, our children can play a role to make Singapore a more caring and inclusive society. When participating in community-wide efforts, they learn compassion, care and volunteerism, as well as inspire others to do good. In line with the President’s Challenge’s focus this year, our children can also start from young and learn to show appreciation to their caregivers, including their parents and grandparents. Such efforts provide opportunities for families to bond meaningfully, as volunteering involves teamwork and communication. I encourage more to join the movement because “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something!”
4 At the launch, Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Social and Family Development and Home Affairs, added, “The ‘Start Small Dream Big’ movement and this year’s theme remind everyone that there is no action too small, that everyone has a place in our society and can make a difference. Through active preschool-family-community partnerships, our children are empowered to provide care to those around them and learn about kindness, compassion and respect. Preschools also share that through greater parental participation in centre activities, the relationship between parents and teachers are strengthened and parents better appreciate the teachers’ work and motivations. This enables parents to support their children’s learning and development from home.”
5 Fostering partnerships with families and the community is a cornerstone for E-Bridge Pre-School (Sengkang Square). As part of their SSDB project, their preschoolers have been engaging the residents and caregivers at St Luke’s Elder Care regularly. This year, the preschool is also working with families of their children to give back to the community, while caring for the environment and advocating for sustainable practices. This is the preschool’s third year participating in SSDB. All 22 E-Bridge Pre-School centres have come on board SSDB this year.
6 Community projects that SSDB preschools will embark on include raising funds for President’s Challenge beneficiaries and other charity organisations, donation drives for families and vulnerable groups in need, befriending residents at elder care homes and giving support to their caregivers, as well as engaging with persons with disabilities to foster a culture of inclusivity.
7 This year, 28 community partners are supporting preschools in their SSDB projects, with two new partners — MINDS and KidSTART Singapore — on board.
8 Sophia Lim, Deputy Director, Strategic Communications & Engagement, MINDS, believes it is important to help children develop empathy and encourage them to embrace diversity. “MINDS is delighted to have the opportunity to be a partner of SSDB. We look forward to working with teachers and parents to help shape perceptions of our young to be more aware of differently abled people in our community. Through conversations and shared experiences, we hope they will be inspired to give back to society when they are older and play a more active role to advocate for greater social inclusion in Singapore.”
9 KidSTART Singapore, a non-profit organisation specialising in child development and supporting families with less resources through the KidSTART programme, hopes to plant the seed of empathy and compassion among our young ones and drive the message that everyone, regardless of background and age, has the capacity to help others. Through artworks co-created with KidSTART children and fundraising, SSDB preschools are also invited to embark on volunteering activities for KidSTART families.
10 Parents and family members are strongly encouraged to participate in the children’s project activities. Stories from all participating preschools on their events and activities can be found at http://www.startsmalldreambig.sg.
ISSUED BYEARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AGENCY