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TheBigStory
 
Causes Week

While You Were Sleeping, someone was nice to you

Published on Dec 12, 2012 6:00 AM
 
Mr Ng came up with the While You Were Sleeping campaign in response to the competitive climate at his university. It encourages people to do a simple act of kindness while someone is asleep. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SICK of hearing horror stories about students stealing textbooks or bursting into tears over results, Mr Josiah Ng decided to spread a little bit of joy during examination time.

Taken aback by how competitive some of his peers could be, the 24-year-old wondered why there could not be a more "positive tone to our daily lives".

After seeing his peers nod off while studying in the library, the idea hit him: "Wouldn't it be nice if they woke up to a snack?"

So began his While You Were Sleeping (WYWS) campaign, which encourages strangers to carry out a simple act of kindness while another slumbers. It has since gone global.

Participants are invited to print out a WYWS card and leave a positive anonymous note along with a snack or drink for the person.

When Mr Ng came up with the idea last year at Singapore Management University, people he shared it with scoffed, so he pushed it to the back of his mind.

By this January, he had left school to concentrate on his freelance video directing and producing work.

With more time and resources on his hands, he revisited the idea and roped in friends to create a video to kick off the campaign.

Summing up the project, he said: "It's really for someone else to have a better day."

The campaign's Facebook page, which shows a 31/2-minute video on the subject, garnered more than 2,000 likes in two days.

Mr Ng said he was surprised at how the campaign was embraced.

There are almost 3,300 likes of the page and 33,000 views of the video to date, along with countless downloads of the card.

Most acts of kindness have occurred among students, but even cleaning aunties at hospitals have been surprise recipients of the simple gifts, he has heard.

The viral campaign has had messages from people in Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand saying they had given or received the simple snack and note.

Next year, Mr Ng, now a creative producing student at Chapman University Singapore, wants to encourage kinder behaviour on public transport.

"Graciousness isn't a single person's job," he said.

Singapore Institute of Management University third-year economics student Yeo Yao Sheng, 24, agreed.

After seeing a stressed-out student nod off in a study corner, he and a friend left 20 cans of Red Bull for him with a note of encouragement.

He said: "At first he was confused, but after reading the note you could see him light up."

llim@sph.com.sg

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/wywsleeping

Background story

SPREADING JOY

It's really for someone else to have a better day.

- Mr Josiah Ng, 24, on the project

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