Fun and facts at heartland party

Sisters (from left) Quek Gek Ling, six, and Quek Gek Boon, eight, learning about CPR from a member of the Community Emergency Response Team, Mr Adris Chong, 31, at the Our Blocks Rock event in Hougang yesterday.
Sisters (from left) Quek Gek Ling, six, and Quek Gek Boon, eight, learning about CPR from a member of the Community Emergency Response Team, Mr Adris Chong, 31, at the Our Blocks Rock event in Hougang yesterday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Whether you wanted to start a band or wrap a bandage, Block 648A in Hougang was the place to be yesterday.

It was the venue for an Our Blocks Rock party - the first of 17 to be held in heartland areas around Singapore to promote racial harmony and community resilience.

The events are being organised by The People's Association (PA) and The New Paper (TNP) and aim to bring together people of all ages to take part in fun activities in public spaces.

Yesterday's included experiences as diverse as guitar jam sessions, Chinese calligraphy and artisanal leatherwork.

The series got off to a good start with around 2,000 people turning up to check out the stalls, where residents and local entrepreneurs showcased their skills.

There were a few concerned looks when a group of "bloodied" people walked around with gory wounds on their faces and limbs.

Fortunately, they were not really hurt, but were from the improvised first aid station, where residents were taught how to dress wounds using everyday materials by members of the PA's Community Emergency Response Team. This aims to make sure that the country is prepared for times of difficulty.

Housewife Jocelyn Toh, 52, said her 18-year-old son Leow Wei En, who has autism, was there to hone his Chinese calligraphy skills. She said it was a good opportunity for him to boost his confidence in social situations. "He seems very happy. I feel that he is very focused on his calligraphy today."

Adviser to Ang Mo Kio grassroots organisations Darryl David, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, who attended the event, said that in the light of recent global events it is essential to enhance community vigilance to "know what to do should there be some things that don't go according to plan".

Residents also got to try their hands at cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Local resident Chris Tan, 46, who runs a CCTV company, had a go at CPR, along with his daughter Merley Latisha, 12.

He said: "One day you might use it and you can save somebody. It's very good to create awareness for everybody."

The PA hopes these events will reinvent community areas as trendy spaces. Chief executive director Ang Hak Seng said the organisation hoped to involve the younger generation in "creating harmony".

TNP Editor Dominic Nathan said: "The heartlander is very close to our hearts because TNP is very much a heartland newspaper."

The Our Blocks Rock events will take place until December, with the next planned for Bedok Reservoir-Punggol on July 30 and 31.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2016, with the headline 'Fun and facts at heartland party'. Print Edition | Subscribe