Affordable enrichment centre for children launched in Jalan Besar

(From left) Ms Lim Si Hui, Madam Desiree Mercado with her son John Vince Mercado, Mr Desmond Lee and Mayor Denise Phua at Glyph's new centre in Beach Road, on April 9, 2021. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Families in Jalan Besar now have access to affordable enrichment activities for children at a centre launched on Friday (April 9).

It was opened on Beach Road by social enterprise Glyph, which offers classes, field trips and outdoor activities.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, the guest of honour at the event, said he hoped it would help children and support parents in child-raising.

"We have to make sure the children are very well taken care of because the parents have to work very hard, they have lots of challenges that they are overcoming and therefore we must play our part to support the family, help support the children, and then they will be our future," he said.

The social enterprise, which started as a small initiative in Bukit Merah in 2017, caters to more than 1,700 children aged five to 16. It has satellite branches in Boon Lay and Marsiling, and offers classes such as social emotional learning and computational thinking .

Glyph, which has a partnership with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, also focuses on leadership and team-building, through excursions and outdoor activities such as mountain biking and rock climbing.

Painted in pastel shades of pink, blue and yellow with a micro library and classrooms, the new centre at Beach Road is about three times larger than the previous one in Bukit Merah, which has now closed.

"As a social enterprise you endeavour to be sustainable," Mr Lee said at Friday's ceremony, which was also attended by Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua.

"You make sure what you do you can do so with some innovation, savvy and that allows you to continue despite the vagaries of ups and downs of the economy."

Housewife Haszlinda Zahari, 50, said she was looking forward to her son, Miqhael Ashraff, 10, attending the Beach Road centre.

She said Miqhael, who started attending classes with Glyph three years ago when he was a primary one student, had received help to come to terms with his speech delay and hyperactiveness.

Madam Hazlinda said her other children, aged 30, 29 and 26, were much older than Miqhael. This used to make him feel lonely.

"He was very shy at times and through this he is able to find friends, and gain confidence in himself," she said.

Monthly membership at the centres starts from as little as $20, making them accessible to children of all backgrounds.

A spokesman for the social enterprise said: "We are empowered to continue building the conducive learning environment that has been the cornerstone of our community amid the Covid-19 situation.

"This physical environment, whereby we create learning journeys through people, classroom and field trips, is the catalyst through which strong personal connections are established, which can never be fully replaced by digital technology or online learning."

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