With Singapore's Golden Jubilee just around the corner, many have responded to the call to initiate projects to celebrate the nation's 50th birthday.
More than 100 projects have received grants from the SG50 Celebration Fund, which was launched in January last year to encourage Singaporeans to come up with novel ways to celebrate SG50. Another 250 proposals are either being reviewed by the five evaluation panels or being refined.
The panels comprise representatives from the SG50 committees, who are drawn from non-profit organisations and the private sector.
These representatives will assess each project on its ability to:
- Raise the awareness of our Singaporean identity and sense of belonging to Singapore;
- Reach out and engage the community;
- Show potential in successful completion and execution according to plan.
Ideas can be submitted until Aug 31.
The fund offers up to $50,000 a project, or 90 per cent of the qualifying project costs.
The SG50 Programme Office says it does not disclose the amount of funding given to individual projects.
An initial $5 million has been set aside for the fund, of which $3 million has already been utilised. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who heads the SG50 Programme Office, has said that the kitty can be increased if more good ideas surface.
The funding for successful applicants is disbursed in two tranches. They will receive up to 20 per cent of the approved funding amount at the start of their project, and the remaining 80 per cent of the approved amount will be reimbursed upon successful completion of the project.
In response to SundayLife!'s queries on how each project is supervised, the SG50 Programme Office says it keeps in touch with the project owners to get updates on the progress, and to discuss any adjustments due to unforeseen factors.
"Ultimately, we do want to see as many meaningful projects as possible being realised with the support of the SG50 Celebration Fund," says a spokesman for the SG50 Programme Office.
Some projects have already been completed last year, and this year's first ground-up event backed by the fund was Percussion 101, a 11/2-hour free evening concert held at the Botanic Gardens and featuring 82 musicians.
So what else can Singaporeans look forward to? SundayLife! highlights six noteworthy projects being funded.
Realising that Pulau Ubin is inaccessible to wheelchair-users, able-bodied friends Dennis Quek and Wilson Ang decided to do something about it.
The result? Wheels@Ubin, which will see 100 wheelchair-users set their wheels on the island on June 26.
Mr Quek, 52, director at Republic Polytechnic's Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management, says that logistics was the biggest challenge they faced in getting the project off the ground.
"The bumboat operators said they couldn't transport the wheelchair users from Changi Jetty to the island, and the commercial barge operators we contacted said the boats are meant for goods and not passengers," says Mr Quek.
In order for wheelchair-users to make it to a boat, there has to be a ramp, as there are steps and gaps to negotiate from land to boat.
In April last year, Mr Quek wrote to the Republic of Singapore Navy to ask for help. Six months later, he received word that the navy would be able to provide fast craft and ramps.
The resourceful duo also managed to get SMRT taxis to drive the wheelchair- users to Changi Jetty.
Says Mr Quek: "We're celebrating 50 years of being a developed country. No part of the country should be inaccessible to any Singaporean.
"We're working together as a community to make this project happen but, at some point, hopefully Pulau Ubin can be accessible to all wheelchair-users."
He is currently working with the Asian Women's Welfare Association, the Society for the Physically Disabled and the Handcycling Association Singapore, which will identify the beneficiaries of Wheels@Ubin.
The team is also looking for volunteers to pair up with the wheelchair-users on the event day.
To register as a volunteer for this event and for more details, go to www.facebook.com/WAU2015
A home-cooked food movement, #SgEatWithUs was started by teacher Lee Li Theng, 36, and two of her friends.
They wanted to encourage "home chefs" to share with one another the joy of cooking, and to build a community that shares, cooks and appreciates local, home-cooked food.
"Anyone can sign up to be a home chef. Food is the glue that brings people together and we want people to share the stories behind their dishes," says Madam Lee.
#SgEatWithUs will see four pop-up food carnivals held at different locations, to gather Singaporeans to share home-cooked food.
The first of these, themed Local Favourites, took place at the former Bottle Tree Park on Dec 28. Thirty-one home chefs participated in the event.
The next pop-up, with the theme The Good Old Days, will be held on March 29 at the National Library Building atrium. Registration for home chefs opens on Wednesday.
Apart from pop-ups, the #SgEatWithUs team have also been encouraging Singaporeans to participate in the movement by having their own potluck parties with family members, friends and neighbours, and then posting a picture of the meal online with the hashtag, #SgEatWithUs.
For updates and more details, and to register as a home chef, go to www.facebook.com/SgEatWithUs
Let's Draw! Singapore
The brainchild of freelance artist Don Low, 44, Let's Draw! Singapore sees more than 50 artists sketching a neighbourhood or area in Singapore that is close to each of their hearts.
For example, Ms Lisa Ng, the 37-year-old design director of interior design and build firm Ansana, sketched the view from her apartment at Lorong Kismis in Bukit Batok.
"I just moved into my own apartment in August last year, so I drew the scene from my living room to remember this achievement in my life," she says.
Mr Low, who is also a part-time art lecturer at Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media and DigiPen Singapore, drew Everton Park - a neighbourhood he called home from 1981 to 1998, before he got married and moved out.
He says: "The sketches build a sense of belonging between each artist and his or her neighbourhood, and are a way for the artists to share their experiences with one another and with members of the public."
The sketches are currently being drawn in three A4-sized sketchbooks, which are passed from one artist to another. They will be completed by April.
After that, the artworks from the three sketchbooks will be collated and published in a book, which will then be distributed to each contributor.
The book launch, and an exhibition to display the works, are scheduled to take place in September. The book will be sold at a later date.
For more details, go to www.facebook.com/groups/ 777344718955185/
Forward It SG
Buy a cup of coffee and benefit the pioneer generation - that's what the Forward It SG movement seeks to get young people to do.
Started by mobile app developer Lin Rongjie, 30, and four of his friends, the movement has managed to get 12 local cafes on board. The participating cafes include Dong Po Colonial Cafe, Crossings Cafe and PoTeaTo.
Each of them will stipulate a coffee on its menu as a "Forward Cup". When someone buys this, the cafe will give two free cups of the same coffee (or any coffee of a lower value) to a patron from the pioneer generation.
Each senior patron can redeem only one cup a day from each cafe. The cafes keep tabs on the number of free coffees available with vouchers, which are stuck on the board either at the cafe's entrance or near the counter. Seniors can take a voucher from the board and redeem the free coffee.
This movement was launched earlier this month and will go on until March.
Mr Lin's target is for 50,000 Forward Cups to be redeemed. To date, about 1,000 cups have been redeemed.
"Since many young people frequent cafes, we thought this would be a good way for them to show appreciation for the contributions of pioneer generation members," says Mr Lin.
For more details, go to www.facebook.com/ForwardItSG
Books about the Presidents of Singapore
The National Book Development Council of Singapore intends to create six children's books about the lives of Singapore's former presidents.
The books are intended for readers aged eight to 12.
Not only are they meant for students, but they will also be written by students who attend the same schools as the former presidents.
"We thought this would be interesting and also meaningful," says Mr Kenneth Quek, deputy director of the council.
For example, students from Hwa Chong Institution will write the story of the late President Ong Teng Cheong, and students from Raffles Institution will write that of Singapore's first president Yusof Ishak.
The council has received 18 entries, the top three entries from each of the six schools involved.
The top six entries, one from each school, will be decided by a panel of judges as well as members of the public.
The results will be out by early April and the books published by June.
As a website covering travel and lifestyle in Singapore, TheSmartLocal decided to tap on its expertise in providing news from the little red dot to create feel-good online editorials that promote Singapore.
"There's a lot of negativity online, so we want to focus on positive content that helps people feel proud about Singapore," says Mr Bryan Choo, 31, managing editor of the website.
His project, Capturing The Hearts Of Singaporeans In The Digital Space, will see his team producing at least 10 online articles that educate readers about Singapore.
Started last November, there have been two posts so far.
The first, 50 Fun & Free Things To Do In Singapore, has received more than 500,000 views, says Mr Choo. The second, 20 Singaporean Street Names And The Fascinating Stories Behind Them, has about 11,000 views.
"We're thankful for the support of the Celebration Fund, which allows us to justify giving our writers weeks to put together stories like these," says Mr Choo.
The articles can be accessed at www.thesmartlocal.com