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Children's Day with a Difference

13 Nov 2012

CHIJ (Kellock) Children for Children charity event

About 1,300 students from 65 schools enjoyed a sampling of traditional games and other activities at stalls set up by by CHIJ (Kellock) pupils at Universal Studios.

When Children's Day swings around in October, some pupils at CHIJ (Kellock) aren't just looking forward to a "day off" from school. For the fifth year running, they have participated and even helped to organise Children for Children, an annual charity event that is a collaboration between the school, The Arts House and Business Times.

The event aims to raise funds for The Business Times Budding Artists Fund and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. This year's instalment saw 250 pupils from CHIJ (Kellock) play host to 1,300 children from less privileged backgrounds at Universal Studios Singapore. Besides enjoying the theme park rides and attractions, the guests were also entertained by a musical extravaganza staged by the CHIJ (Kellock) pupils. The show was based on this year's theme, "My World, My Adventure".

In spite of preparations for this event taking place in the midst of her PSLE, Primary 6 pupil Lauren Low volunteered to be involved for a second year running. "The school supported me through my six years here, so it's my responsibility to give back something to the school," she enthuses.

For other pupils, it was an opportunity to develop their budding talents. Pri 2 pupil and self-confessed "drama queen" Ananya Sharma, says, "It was my first experience on stage performing in front of more than 1,000 people. I was nervous but when I saw the audience laughing, that gave me courage. It was exciting to make the children happy!"

CHIJ (Kellock) Children for Children charity event

During the musical drama, Ananya (extreme left) reminded the audience to "empower others", one of the 3 "E" messages for the event.

Sharing values through song and dance

Besides the musical performance, CHIJ (Kellock) pupils also prepared a variety of games and craftwork stalls, creating a carnival-like atmosphere for their guests. Central to all the activities, says teacher-in-charge, Ms Sri Darmavijaya Govindaraj, is a core message to help both CHIJ (Kellock) pupils and their guests "to see the world as one of opportunities and to take it on as an adventure."

She elaborates on the three 'E' messages of Children for Children: "to explore possibilities, experience challenges, and when you face setbacks, to be resilient and carry on empowering others." For example, at the first such event in 2008, amidst a gloomy economic recession, pupils put up a musical, "Dreamweavers", which was a reminder to seek new possibilities.

This year, pupils continued to be ardent ambassadors for the "3 Es". Ananya, who was cast in one of the lead roles, describes her experience. "As I was acting with the other three girls on stage, I felt as if I was talking to the children out there in the audience. I told them that they should not give up, and that every failure is an opportunity in disguise."

CHIJ (Kellock) Children for Children charity event

Besides enjoying the theme park rides, guests at the Children for Children event also got to try traditional childhood games such as "zero point".

Lauren manned a horseshoe game stall, where participants had to throw a rubber cord towards a stick from a distance. She says, "When some of the participants threw it once and missed, they didn't want to try again. But there will surely come a time when you will triumph if you don't give up. Some of them were positive, trying repeatedly until they eventually succeeded."

Along with motivational handwritten notes from the CHIJ (Kellock) pupils, which were placed in the adventure kits given out to the 1,300 recipients, the 3 "E" messages were also represented through tangible souvenirs such as a carabiner and a compass. These were to remind guests to be anchored in values and to set themselves in the direction of those values.

Looking beyond the self

Ms Sri notes, "This event also serves to create in our students a sense of empathy, not pity, so that they understand what children out there go through." Ananya, for instance, can relate to children from single-parent homes. "My mother loves me as much as two parents do. So I want all the children out there, even if they are orphans or less privileged, to know that there are other things they could do to improve their lives. They just need to explore, seek support from friends and teachers and work hard."

CHIJ (Kellock) Children for Children charity event

CHIJ (Kellock) pupils used recycled items and pom-poms to spark off creativity in their guests at one of the many craftwork stalls.

Ms Sri adds, "Empowering others starts with you. Only after you look beyond yourself, can you help others." Lauren took that lesson to heart, and overcame her fear of speaking to large groups of people so as to be able to encourage her guests in various activities. Pri 4 pupil, Alex Tan, feels an affinity with one of the characters in the musical, who was nervous and yet went out to help others. "It impacted me a lot because even if you are very shy, you can still help others."

Ultimately, pupils learnt that making a positive difference in the lives of others was its own reward. Pri 4 pupil, Charlotte Ang says, "My friends who participated in Children for Charity last year got to take the rides at Universal Studios after the event with other children, but this year we did not. But it's okay. We don't always do something just because there will be a reward!"

Alex adds, "Being able to put a smile on children's faces is more important than the money. Even if it was not about the fund-raising, we would still do it for them, just to see them happy."