Building a Caring and Inclusive Home for All
07 Oct 2020
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 Drive 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 http://www.startsmalldreambig.sg. More information on ‘Start Small Dream Big’ can be found at http://www.growatbeanstalk.sg.
1. What is “Start Small Dream Big”?
“Start Small Dream Big” was initiated by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) as a movement to encourage pre-schools to create authentic platforms for children to innovate, problem-solve and use their unique strengths to help others. 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. Participating centres design and implement community service projects for children over the year. This year, the movement was with the theme, ‘A Caring and Inclusive Home for All’. It is aligned with the President’s Challenge’s focus on giving everyone a chance to contribute to society, regardless of their abilities.
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 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. How many children have participated over the years?
4. What is the age range of children who participated in “Start Small Dream Big” and what are expected of the children?
The children are mainly from the K1 and K2 levels (i.e. 5-6 years old). The pre-schools are encouraged to involve and guide the children in developing, planning and implementing community projects. Under the guidance of teachers, the children play an active role in deciding who they want to help and what they want to do. Parents are encouraged to be involved in supporting their child’s community projects.
5. What kind of support did ECDA provide to the participating centres?
ECDA provided a resource package to all participating preschools. The package included bucket hats, pledge cards, stickers, hanging mobiles, Educator’s Guides, reflection journals, posters, and customised banners. This year, e-resources were also provided to preschools at http://go.gov.sg/ssdb2020-resources. Furthermore, ECDA linked preschools to community partners and created opportunities for preschools to share best practices.
6. How did preschools conduct their “Start Small Dream Big” projects in light of the COVID-19 situation?
Preschools participating in SSDB were advised to conduct their projects in accordance with ECDA’s advisories on precautionary measures to safeguard the health and well-being of children and staff against COVID-19. These measures included ensuring personal and environmental hygiene practices, restriction of visitors in preschools, suspension of large group activities and safe-distancing measures. As such, projects were limited to activities within the children’s classrooms or outdoors, in small groups. Partners used online communication tools to give talks or conduct programmes for preschools. Centres also used online communication tools to ‘visit’ elderly facilities and other vulnerable groups, to spread cheer to residents. At-home activities, such as raising donations, recycling, or making appreciation cards to the community were encouraged, with support from the children’s parents and other family members. ECDA has always strongly encouraged SSDB centres to involve parents in their children’s community service efforts so that parents can play an active role in their children’s holistic education.
7. Which community and government agencies did ECDA partner with in 2020 for “Start Small Dream Big”?
ECDA works with many agencies to support preschools in their community projects. Among them are SG Cares, Community Chest, Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), National Parks Board (NParks) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). This year, new partner organisations on board “Start Small Dream Big” were Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), Families for Life (FFL), Ministry of Defence (Nexus) and Temasek Foundation.