SINGAPORE - The red box was a wine-coloured briefcase which symbolised the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's dedication and ambitions for Singapore. It held his speech drafts, letters, notes and cassette tapes with his recorded instructions.
Now, that symbol has been adopted in several initiatives launched at an event on Friday (Sept 16), which is Mr Lee's birthday - to encourage children to have aspirations for Singapore and care about others in society.
A cardboard briefcase, called the little Red Box which mimics Mr Lee's briefcase, was launched on Friday. It contained items such as a storybook and journal to teach children about compassion and graciousness.
About 20,000 of these boxes will be given out on Children's Day (Oct 7), to pre-schools that take part in the Early Childhood Development Agency's Start Small Dream Big project, where children work with their centres and parents on community projects.
St James' Church Kindergarten, one of the largest kindergartens here, also launched its inaugural Red Box Day, an annual effort to showcase its children's community projects and encourage them to dream big for Singapore.
The kindergarten's senior principal Jacqueline Chung said: "We plan to make the Red Box Day a permanent and annual feature. This is our way of seeding into the future by creating in children an awareness that they can play an active role in shaping a caring and compassionate society."
Earlier this year, hundreds of the pre-school's nursery, K1 and K2 pupils had raised close to $16,000 in a single day on Aug 11, as part of their Project Work Open House. They sold handicraft to raise funds for various charities and distributed groceries to low-income families in one-room flats in Holland Close.
Some of these projects were featured at an exhibition at the kindergarten's newest campus in Gilstead Road on Friday.
A Red Box Activity Book and an educator's guide were also launched on the same day. They complement another children's book titled What's Inside The Red Box, which was launched last year and tells Mr Lee's story, focusing on his dreams and how he made Singapore what it is today.
The guide was developed by St James' Church Kindergarten teachers. The books are published by the Straits Times Press and sponsored by Mapletree Investments.
Some 6,000 copies of the activity book and educators' guide will be distributed to participating pre-schools in the Start Small Dream Big project.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who was guest of honour at the launch event, said of Mr Lee's red box: "It represents our hopes and dreams... What we have (in Singapore) today is very much a result of his efforts over the years - all the different slips of paper that cumulatively added up in the box. I think these projects help our children to begin to grasp some of those concepts and start them on that journey (of caring about other people's needs) ."
Mr Lee died at the age of 91 on March 23, 2015.