Having a ball of a time giving back

Instead of playing video games this school holiday, Matthew Chua has been hard at work juggling clubs and perfecting his act for the ChildAid 2013 concert.

Even though he has a jam-packed rehearsal schedule, Matthew, 15, does not mind putting in the effort as he thinks that it is important for underprivileged children to know that they have support from others in the community.

He says: "I feel good taking part in ChildAid because I can finally start giving back to society after all the help I've been receiving."

The annual charity concert Child- Aid features child performers who aim to raise funds for other needy children.

ST 20131202 CHILDAID 3944734m

For the first time, this year's concert features circus acts such as juggling, stilt-walking and stunts performed in mid-air.

This year's show, the ninth, takes the theme of "carnival" in four segments linked by the music of French composer Camille Saint-Saens. The piece in question is The Carnival Of The Animals.

Matthew is part of Circus Infinity, an 11-member troupe comprising special needs youth and youth at risk from the Salvation Army, Katong School and Metta School circus arts groups. The three groups train under the tutelage of contemporary circus arts company Circus In Motion.

Besides juggling, they will perform an array of tricks including stilt-walking and diabolo manipulation to the accompaniment of orchestral music during the Ferris Wheel segment.

Another of its members, a 15- year-old who wants to be known only as Pei Wen, will be walking on stilts during the show's prologue.

She says: "There are some tricks that can be done while on stilts, such as jumping or hopping, but this time I'll mostly be walking."

"Although I'm used to the height, I still get a little nervous every time I put the stilts on," she adds.

She will also be performing in a contact juggling act using crystal balls. The act will see her rolling crystal balls over her hands and body instead of tossing them into the air.

Even though the numerous rehearsals require Katong School's Nuh Ismail Abdullah to cut down on the time he spends with family and friends, he thinks that it is worth the sacrifice.

"My family and friends have seen videos of my performances and they said I am good. They were proud to learn that I am performing in ChildAid," says the 15-year-old, who will be showing off his skills on a balancing ball.

In all, about 130 performers, who include gymnasts, musicians and vocalists, will be backed by a 33-piece orchestra during the show held on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are still available, although seats for the second day are selling fast.

Funds raised go to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which helps needy students pay for meals during recess or transport to school, and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which aims to give underprivileged children a chance to nurture their artistic talents.

Jointly organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, ChildAid is sponsored by Citi Singapore and HSBC. The official venue partner is Marina Bay Sands.

For details, go to www.straitstimes.com/childaid or www.facebook.com/childaid