More Than 53,000 Preschoolers to Give Back to the Community Through ‘Start Small Dream Big’ Movement

More Than 53,000 Preschoolers to Give Back to the Community Through ‘Start Small Dream Big’ Movement

Overcoming tough times together to show care and inclusiveness.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has launched the sixth edition of its President’s Challenge initiative, the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ movement, with more than 53,000 children ready to embark on projects that contribute to the community. The movement, which started with only 150 preschools in 2015, has grown six-fold to 950 preschools this year. This is the highest participation by preschools to-date and shows the sector’s resilience and determination to overcome a difficult time together.

The theme of this year’s ‘Start Small Dream Big’ is “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. Through ‘Start Small Dream Big’, we encourage all preschool children to care for their community in their own unique ways. Children, with guidance from their teachers, select the causes they want to champion.

start small dream big movement

The children from My Kidz Cottage launched their project on “Appreciating Goodness in Everyone” with a fashion show featuring uniforms and outfits of community workers on the frontline. They were shown a video to appreciate the hard work and efforts by our community workers, such as nurses, cleaners, and others providing essential services. They also made hand sanitiser under the guidance of their teachers, and used it to clean their classrooms. The children want to show their appreciation to our community workers by doing their small part to keep themselves safe and healthy to help make the community workers’ jobs easier. | Images courtesy of ECDA

The ‘Start Small Dream Big’ movement this year has taken on greater significance as the preschool sector comes together to uplift community spirits and do good for others amidst the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Many preschools participating in ‘Start Small Dream Big’ are responding to the SG United call to help our society overcome the coronavirus outbreak in creative ways. For example, preschools are making cards, crafts, care packs and videos in appreciation of unsung heroes in our community and frontliners such as healthcare workers, cleaners, and other community workers. Another key project, in tandem with the SG Clean campaign, is raising awareness of the importance of social responsibility by practising good personal and public hygiene habits, such as making homemade soap and creating songs on proper hand-washing.

For instance, as part of their community project, the children at PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Sengkang Central Blk 206A plan to organise a donation drive for the elderly, as well as make refreshments for the cleaners in their neighbourhood to thank them for keeping their school compound clean. On top of that, they have also created a video to teach others how to keep themselves safe from the virus, and interactive games that reinforce good hygiene habits. “Through the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ project, our children learn how to care for the others and show kindness, compassion and appreciation, while continuing their efforts to keep the virus at bay,” said Ms Glory Janessa Puvaneswari Kumaran, Principal of the Sparkletots Preschool.

Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee said, “The ‘Start Small Dream Big’ movement empowers our children to give back to our community through creative and meaningful projects, cultivating a caring and inclusive society for all. The current COVID-19 situation makes it especially important for us to look out for each other. We can turn crisis into opportunity – to build resilience in our young and nurture them to be a positive force during challenging times. I hope that the children’s enthusiasm will inspire even more people to support one another through this unprecedented period, and beyond.”

Parents are encouraged to show support for their children’s projects by participating in their project activities, either at home or online. Teachers and parents can also make use of the new ‘Start Small Dream Big Activity Kit’ to engage their children meaningfully, while learning how they can show care and kindness to others around them. This online printable kit provides suggested activities that incorporate key ‘Start Small Dream Big’ themes.

Preschools participating in ‘Start Small Dream Big’ are advised to conduct their community projects in accordance with ECDA’s prevailing advisory on precautionary measures against COVID-19 to safeguard the health and well-being of children and staff.

More details about ‘Start Small Dream Big’ and stories from all participating preschools on their project events and activities can be found at http://www.startsmalldreambig.sg.

About the Early Childhood Development Agency

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was set up in 2013. The autonomous agency oversees the regulation and development of infant, child care and kindergarten programmes for children below the age of seven. To achieve their vision of giving every child a good start, the agency works in partnership with stakeholders to ensure that every child has access to affordable and quality early childhood development services and programmes.

About President’s Challenge

Started in 2000, the President’s Challenge is an annual community outreach and fund-raising campaign for beneficiaries selected yearly by the President’s Office. The Challenge represents a coming together of people from all walks of life, under the President’s patronage, to help the less fortunate. It serves as a call to all Singaporeans to do their part to build a more caring and inclusive society by giving of their time, skills and enterprise.

In 2012, Dr Tony Tan expanded the areas of focus to include Volunteerism and Social Enterprise. In 2018, President Halimah Yacob refocused the effort of President’s Challenge towards the empowerment of vulnerable groups with skills and employability. An Empowering for Life Fund was set up to support programmes in skills upgrading, capacity building and employment of vulnerable groups. President’s Challenge aims to raise $10 million for the Empowering for Life Fund over the next 5 years and the Government will provide dollar-for-dollar matching.

More information on President’s Challenge can be found at http://www.pc.org.sg.

1. What is ‘Start Small Dream Big’?

The ‘Start Small Dream Big’ (SSDB) movement was initiated by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in 2015 to encourage preschools to create platforms for children to give back to the community. It was first launched as part of SG50 and the 15th anniversary of President’s Challenge, as an annual series of fund-raising and volunteer activities. Participating preschools design and implement community service projects for children over a period of six months.

2. What are the objectives of ‘Start Small Dream Big’?

We aspire to nurture each child holistically, including character building, so that they can succeed individually in life and also become responsible citizens who care about those around them. Through ‘Start Small Dream Big’, young children are encouraged 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 are preschools conducting their ‘Start Small Dream Big’ projects in light of the COVID-19 situation?

start small dream big movement

Titled “An Inclusive Initiative for Different Abilities”, Sunflower Preschool @ Frankel’s SSDB 2020 project hopes their children will be empowered with knowledge to promote an inclusive community by creating a supportive environment for all learners. Their launch party on 19 June 2020 featured an exclusive video sharing by Ivy, who is hearing-impaired. Ivy taught the children simple sign languages, such as ABC, 1 to 10, greetings and how to sign the Happy Birthday song. She also answered their questions about hearing disabilities. | Images courtesy of ECDA

Preschools participating in SSDB are advised to conduct their projects in accordance to ECDA’s latest advisory on precautionary measures to safeguard the health and well-being of children and staff against COVID-19. These measures include ensuring personal and environmental hygiene practices, restriction of visitors in preschools, suspension of large group activities and safe distancing measures. As such, projects would be limited to activities within the children’s classrooms or outdoors, in small groups. Partners may use online communication tools to give talks or conduct programmes for preschools. Visits to elderly homes or other vulnerable groups, and centre-wide events involving large groups of parents or the public, should be avoided or deferred until it is safe to do so. At-home activities, such as raising donations, recycling, or making appreciation cards to the community are encouraged, with support from the children’s parents and other family members.

4. How many children have participated in ‘Start Small Dream Big’ over the years?

Year  Number of Pre- Schools Participating in SSDB  Number of Children Participating in SSDB
2015 150 8,000
2016 300 20,000
2017 550 36,000
2018 670 39,000
2019 820 49,000
2020 930 52,000

5. What is the age range of children who participate in ‘Start Small Dream Big’ and what is expected of the children?

The children are mainly from the K1 and K2 levels (i.e. 5-6 years old). The preschools are encouraged to involve and guide the children in developing, planning and implementing the 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 strongly encouraged to be involved in supporting their child’s community projects.

6. What are some of the community projects that preschools will be carrying out for ‘Start Small Dream Big’ this year?

Some examples of community projects that preschools carry out are showing appreciation to healthcare and other front-line workers; raising awareness on the importance of personal and public hygiene for a clean Singapore; caring for the environment through gardening, recycling efforts and water conservation; and promoting a healthy lifestyle to families and residents in the neighbourhood.

7. What kind of support does ECDA provide to the participating preschools?

ECDA provides a resource package to all participating preschools. The resource package includes bucket hats, pledge cards, stickers, hanging mobiles, Educator’s Guides, reflection journals, posters, and customised banners. This year, e-resources are also provided to preschools at http://go.gov.sg/ssdb2020-resources. Furthermore, ECDA links preschools to community partners and creates opportunities for preschools to share best practices.

8. How was ‘Start Small Dream Big’ launched this year?

Participating preschools are encouraged to carry out their project launches with children either virtually or at their own premises, and share photos or videos through the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ portal, www.startsmalldreambig.sg. Preschools will also document their projects over a period of six months on this portal.

9. Which community and government agencies are ECDA partnering with in 2020 for ‘Start Small Dream Big’?

start small dream big movement

On 3 April, the preschool launched their project on water conservation, titled “I am Small but I can do my part to Save Water!”, with a water rationing exercise. They roped in their parents to bring bottles of tap water from home for the exercise, which was used to wash the children’s hands with. The children pledged to save water by stamping their handprints on ‘Water Wally’, shared water saving tips with their friends and put up a song-and-dance performance. Although they are small, the children believe they can do their part to care for the environment. | Image courtesy of Sunflower Preschool @ Bedok South

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’ are 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.

10. Are there new resource materials available for parents and participating preschools this year?

ECDA, in collaboration with Preschool Market, have developed an SSDB Activity Kit that teachers and parents can use as a resource to engage their children. This e-resource is available for download on the Preschool Market’s website at www.preschoolmarket.com/ssdb. Temasek Foundation, Nexus (MINDEF) and Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) are providing all preschools, including those participating in SSDB, with a storybook teaching values such as unity, resilience and other Total Defence values, as well as a companion activity kit as a classroom resource. This initiative is part of Temasek Foundation’s ‘Stay Prepared’ initiative to build social resilience and preparedness.

Lead image courtesy of Sunflower Preschool @ Bedok South.

The information stated here is republished from a press release sent to theAsianparent. From more announcements and product launches, visit https://sg.theasianparent.com/category/press-releases.

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