In the News
Nurturing Future Community Builders
Features 13 Sep 2019
Brought about by the Tay Eng Soon Endowment, managed by Temasek Foundation, the Humanitarian Education (HE) programme is designed to nurture well-rounded learners who will contribute to the community.
Piloted by NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, this six-year programme encourages students to have a better understanding of the needs and challenges of diverse communities. With this knowledge, they are then empowered to ideate solutions, leveraging on their talents in STEM. As part of the programme, students are first equipped with effective communication, thinking, and community-building skills. It then culminates with the HE Project in Year 5 — spearheaded by the students, they will reach out to organisations within the community (e.g. community centres, voluntary welfare organisations) to dive deeply into what the needs are, prototype ideas based on these needs, then organise suitable activities.
One such activity is Active Aging — Sunday Funday. Students spent an afternoon with 100 elderly residents at Clementi Community Club, teaching them new games like Jenga.
Active Aging — Sunday Funday was an initiative by five students from NUS High with the help of 28 of their peers to ameliorate the loneliness often felt by senior citizens, upon learning that half of the residents in Clementi are above 50 years of age. Regardless of cultural differences, the students believed that the convivial ritual of engaging in games would inject a sense of camaraderie into any social gathering.
Instead of only choosing from traditional games that are familiar to the elderly, the students challenged themselves to teach the elderly new games. The games that were played include Chinese Chess, Sudoku, Memory Cards, Jenga, Chess Puzzle, Exploding Kitten, Rush Hour, and Connect Four. These games were specifically chosen to work the elderly citizens’ cognitive and motor skills.
Planning team member, Teo Kai Kiak Nicholas, chose to volunteer to build on his volunteering skills. "I was the buddy to one wheelchair-bound elderly and as I was bringing him around the different booths, he seemed really excited to play the different games and learn something new. We hope that the event has managed to spark off interest in the elderly to lead an active lifestyle. These events and activities have exposed me to a different world beyond the textbooks. Seeing the world through the perspectives of others has served as a constant reminder of how fortunate I am, a privilege that I hope to extend to those in need in whatever small way I can."
Apart from this Active Aging activity, students helmed projects that seek to raise awareness of food waste, conducted a workshop on recycled gardening, educated the community on e-waste management, as well as taught bread-making without an oven. The results from the pilot have been very encouraging — about 90% of students surveyed shared that the HE programme has allowed them to learn how they could better contribute to the community. Students also learnt valuable life skills such as adapting to unexpected situations and having empathy. This has inspired students to want to initiate more meaningful projects for the community and given NUS High School the confidence to roll out the programme to the entire school in 2019.
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About Temasek Foundation
Temasek Foundation delivers a diverse range of programmes that uplift lives and advance communities in Singapore and beyond. These are made possible through 19 non-profit philanthropic endowments, gifted by Temasek and managed by the Temasek Foundation under its respective mandates. For more information, visit Temasek Foundation.