Published on 16 December 2023
Ms Chong Siak Ching CEO, National Gallery Singapore,
Mr Ho Tong Yen, CEO of Keppel Care Foundation,
Family and Friends,
1. I am very happy to be here for the opening event of the revamped Keppel Centre for Art Education at the National Gallery Singapore. I have been here with my children more than ten times. And the experience has always been so fresh, because I know that the art area has always been refreshed every one and a half years, so it is always a new experience for children and parents. And it's very exciting to see that now the space is revamped in its entirety, to become more interactive and a place of wonder for children, families, and those young at heart.
2. The Keppel Centre for Art Education is not only a space for children to learn and explore art; it is also a space for families to spend meaningful time together and create cherished memories as they bond over play. So thank you so much, Keppel, for your collaboration with National Gallery, because together you have created such a wonderful experience for many Singaporean families and foreign visitors.
3. We all know that children are naturally inquisitive – they explore, observe, imitate, with their hands, their fingers, their feet, sometimes even with their face, to smell things, and sensory play – there are just so many aspects of learning. They try to figure out how things work, how to control themselves and their environment. So introducing art to our children at a young age not only provides them with a way to express themselves and spark their creativity, it also gives us a glimpse into how our children see the world and what is important to them.
4. If we are sensitive as parents, we will be paying attention to what our children are trying to convey to us, not only through their words, but also through their art. You can learn so much about our children by observing how they draw and how they interact. Nowadays, children are exposed to so many different mediums to express themselves. The digital world is one such medium, but we have to be careful as parents, because the digital world can be sometimes limiting and also be harmful if parents do not appropriately guide our children on the use of digital devices.
5. So I am a huge proponent of coming back to the basics. Basics such as art, where children are given the space to explore and engage in free play to be able to express themselves. The revamped Centre is designed with such a theme in mind. There are spaces and programmes developed specially to help children and youths develop curiosity through multisensory active learning and creative play. From immersive interactive experiences to a creative experimentation space for families to create art together, the Centre offers a multitude of experiences for every child and family. The important thing is to come here to bond with your children, sometimes be guided by them, listen to them, draw with them – it does not matter how beautiful the art is, it is that experience that is important.
6. We often say that families are the cornerstone of our society. It does not just come about naturally – we have to work on it. We know that a safe and nurturing family life, is an important anchor for our children in their early lives. How parents interact with one another and how parents interact with children also gives our children an early reference point on how relationships should be managed. But what happens in the family is not only controlled by what family members do, you also need help from society. And that is where partners such as Keppel come into play. Partners in our society help support our families and children. And our society, as a whole, can continue to do more to support families as we journey through life. So I’m heartened that Keppel and community partners have come onboard in the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners by contributing their time, resources and programmes to make a difference in the lives of many families. I hope more corporates will also step forward to achieve our collective vision of a Singapore Made for Families.
7. As individuals, as parents, we too, must take active steps to strengthen our family relationships. It starts with something easy – making time for our children. Under the Families for Life (FFL) movement, there are many programmes, resources and events which families can access and participate in. For instance, FFL has complimentary evidence-based parenting programmes; Triple P and Purposeful Play available islandwide to help parents navigate the challenges of parenthood. The FFL Parenting portal also offers a wide range of resources backed by research and experts to support parents in raising healthy and happy children. I hope more families will tap on these resources to strengthen your family relationships.
8. In closing, thank you for inviting me to be a part of this special occasion. I wish everyone a wonderful weekend ahead. Let’s have fun at the newly revamped Keppel Centre for Art Education!
9. Thank you.