BUILDING A CARING AND INCLUSIVE HOME FOR ALL
Record number of preschools dedicate 1.5 million hours towards community service projects amidst COVID-19
Over 53,000 children from 950 preschools collectively dedicated 1.5 million hours of community service projects this year, as part of the President’s Challenge ‘Start Small Dream Big’ (SSDB) movement, initiated by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). This is the highest rate of participation since the movement started in 2015 with 150 preschools and 8,000 children.
2 The theme for this year, ‘A Caring and Inclusive Home for All’, inspired our pre-schoolers to contribute to society in their own small ways, with guidance from their teachers, as well as support from the parents and community partners. This is the sixth edition of the SSDB movement, aimed at building an early childhood community that inculcates positive values in children, such as kindness and compassion for others.
3 Despite this being a challenging year, many preschools have stepped forward to support this meaningful community effort under the President’s Challenge. Many projects this year geared towards showing appreciation to healthcare personnel, migrant workers and frontliners in society. Children made thoughtful thank you notes and care packs to express their gratitude to these ‘everyday heroes’. For example, YWCA Child Development Centre (Outram) compiled a video conveying their children’s messages of appreciation and encouragement to the healthcare workers at Singapore General Hospital. The children also prepared mask cases and handmade posters, which their teachers delivered to the healthcare staff on the children’s behalf.
4 As a show of appreciation to migrant workers affected by COVID-19 for their contributions to Singapore, children from Greenland Childcare @ Punggol collected and packed dried food supplies. The preschool reached out to SG Accident Help Centre (SGAHC), a non-profit organisation, to help them with the delivery of the donations. The children also created art pieces inspired by Southeast Asian artists and sold them to parents via Zoom during the virtual charity event organised to raise funds for migrant workers.
5 Projects that encourage inter-generational bonding and caring for the seniors are also a cause that many participating preschools chose to support. Due to safe-distancing measures, physical visits to the eldercare facilities or senior activity centres were not allowed, but the preschools came up with creative and innovative ways to engage our seniors. For example, the children at Little Greenhouse @ Jurong West 502, prepared board games using recycled materials and filmed their own instructional videos to teach the seniors how to play the board games. They collaborated with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and Community Chest, and connected with the seniors from St. Andrew’s Nursing Home (Taman Jurong) and All Saints Home (Jurong East), via virtual sessions to keep them company. Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, AIC’s Chief Executive Officer, said “We are pleased to play a part in this project to connect the preschools with our partners in the Community Care sector. It is heartening to know that the virtual intergenerational visits and instructional videos have helped bridge safe-distancing measures to connect children with seniors. These engagements have brought joy to the seniors and allowed the children to get to know the seniors better.”
6 Lending her support to the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ movement, President Halimah Yacob said, “I would like to thank our children for showing care and compassion, especially for those who are less fortunate. Let’s continue to work together to make Singapore a more caring and inclusive home for all.”
7 The public can read stories contributed by participating centres on the children’s ‘Start Small Dream Big’ projects at www.startsmalldreambig.sg. More information
on ‘Start Small Dream Big’ can be found at www.ecda.gov.sg/growatbeanstalk.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT