5,500 gifts for school's Life Shop

NorthLight School students (from left) Sharvonne Sherrell Surash, 14, Farish Muhd Khair Farish Khalid, 13, and Amos Tay, 15, at the school's "Life Shop", where students can buy items with "sticker money".
NorthLight School students (from left) Sharvonne Sherrell Surash, 14, Farish Muhd Khair Farish Khalid, 13, and Amos Tay, 15, at the school's "Life Shop", where students can buy items with "sticker money".ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Items donated by Changi Airport Group boost appeal of store with a mission

A gift shop at NorthLight School has been given a new lease of life with the donation of about 5,500 new and second-hand items by Changi Airport Group last month.

These include soccer balls, stationery items, bags and kendamas - simple Japanese wooden toys played like a yo-yo that are selling in Singapore by the hundred every week.

NorthLight principal Martin Tan told The Straits Times: "In terms of the scale, it's as if the shop has transformed from a provision store in a void deck into a department store."

Staff and students said the newly refurbished "Life Shop", which officially opened on Monday, gives students more motivation to work hard and display good behaviour.

The school in Towner Road admits those who failed the Primary School Leaving Examination.

The shop is unique in that students can buy items only with "sticker money". They each have a piece of paper indicating different amounts of money. Good behaviour and returning found items are some acts that earn them stamps on various amounts. Punctuality and regular attendance, for instance, can earn them between $1 and $5.

The aim is to help students get better at mathematics by making them redeem items in a retail context, while incentivising good behaviour.

A kendama costs $30 in sticker money, while a football costs $100. Mr Tan said: "With the Life Shop getting a fresh lease of life, pupils will naturally put in more effort to earn sticker money and buy the items."

This system has been in place at the shop since 2008. But the items were then usually donated by school staff, so there were few items and less variety. "When I first saw the shop a few years ago, I thought it appealed more to the girls. Most of the contributors were female teachers. So, there was a lot of pink stuff and Hello Kitty items," said Mr Tan.

Now, having a more varied inventory will help widen its appeal to the boys, he said, adding that the school has more boys than girls.

Ms Ng Bee Kay, assistant vice-president for corporate development and international relations at Changi Airport Group, said it was heartwarming to see so many items contributed by its staff during a three-day donation drive. "Over 50 volunteers also helped to transport, pack and sort out the items. There was a great outpouring of support."

A few students had a sneak preview of the shop when The Straits Times visited last week. Farish Muhd Khair Farish Khalid, 13, who hopes to buy a football, said: "The shop is much better now. I think we'll be more motivated to work hard to buy the items."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2015, with the headline '5,500 gifts for school's Life Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe