Were you a Friend of Singa back when you were in school?
For those who don't know, the Friend of Singa Awards recognise students in Singapore who exemplify kindness values. Inaugurated in 1991, the awards aim to empower students to adopt kindness initiatives in their school communities.
The awards are in their 27th year now, and recently got revamped with a new name - So Swee, So Singa.
We had the good fortune of speaking to Ms. Chen Chu Yan, who is now 30, but was awarded the Friend of Singa badge back when she was just 12 years old, and a student of Bendemeer Primary School.
theAsianparent thought of bringing you Ms. Chen's story not just to take you on a walk down memory lane, but also so that you can tell it to your own children. It is a story of kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration, which is exactly what the Friend of Singa Awards recognise in children.
Standing up against school bullies
Did you know that Singapore has the third highest rates of bullying in schools globally? And once you read Ms Chen's story, you'll realise it's not just a recent phenomena.
When she was a student at Bendemeer Primary School, Ms Chen noticed a classmate being relentlessly bullied. In fact, her classmate was so badly bullied that sometimes, she didn't even come to school, for fear of the bullies.
Ms Chen decided enough was enough and stood up for her classmate, despite being new to the school herself. The classmate, who was very touched by this act of kindness, told Ms Chin that no one in the class had ever helped her like this before.
We asked Ms Chen why she thought to help her classmate like this, and she told us, "I wanted my classmate to have a happy, peaceful and conducive learning environment. Kindness is the source of happiness."
She also mentioned that seeing what her classmate was going through made her feel very unhappy. Ms Chen explained that this made her feel very determined to stand up for those who needed her help. And her bravery and determination to help others as a 12-year-old school girl made a difference, because it deterred the bullies.
But it was not just this classmate that Ms Chen helped. She was often found to be helping others too if they were struggling with schoolwork, and even lending them stationary and textbooks when needed.
A good upbringing
When a child exhibits such wonderful traits, it's safe to say that these are a result of a good, secure family upbringing filled with warm and cherished memories.
This is certainly the case with Ms Chen. She reminisces, "Every weekend we would visit my grandmother’s place. My cousins and I loved to play at the playground and cycle at the neighbourhood park."
"We had family gatherings for celebrations at my grandparent’s place and held family outings at East Coast Park and Botanical Gardens."
Ms Chen is very appreciate of how her parents raised her, and is very grateful to their influence on her life as a child that brought out the best in her then, and now as an adult.
"My parents set a good example by exhibiting kindness traits themselves. They were firm but not overtly strict. I learned to adopt the same stance when standing up against bullying."
The need for more empathy
With the rising rates of bullying in schools worldwide, we wonder if children these days lack empathy?
Ms Chen agrees, and thinks that empathy also depends on a person's upbringing and the values inculcated by the school, "I think kids nowadays display less traits of kindness. They always use hand phones and ignore their surroundings."
How then can parents help their children develop empathy and kindness?
Ms Chen feels that, "Parents are a mirror to their child. Actions speaks louder than words. Parents who show kindness and empathy can help influence their child to display similar traits during their formative years."
Lastly, we ask Ms. Chen what her message would be, for our dear readers.
"Honour the aged of other family as we honour our own;
Care for the children of other family as we care for our own."
Thank you so much, Ms. Chen for these valuable words. As Dalai Lama once said, "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."