SINGAPORE - The video animation of a children's book about the Istana shows how important it is to use platforms preferred and accessed by the young to help them connect with their heritage, said President Halimah Yacob on Monday (May 23).
The Curious Sounds Of The Istana was published in 2019. Speaking to the media at the Istana on the occasion of launching the video based on the book, Madam Halimah said: "I asked the children here if they would like to read the book or if they would like to watch the animated version, and they all said, without a single one saying otherwise, that they would like to watch the animated version."
She added: "I feel this is an important way for us to make use of platforms and mediums that our young people are now accessing. (We had) the print version and we now have the animated version, so this is one way for us to get the children to understand better their heritage, their legacy, their present and their future as well."
The book follows four children as they explore the Istana and learn about its history during an open house event.
The video animation was done in collaboration with the President's Office and Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) as part of efforts to make the Istana more accessible through technology.
Mr Ryan Qin, who animated the video, said the entire process, from creating the storyboard to animating the characters, took around six months.
Mr Qin, who is a lecturer at NP's School of Infocomm Technology, told ST: "Previously, our target was a three-minute video animation. But we later realised that three minutes was not enough to tell the whole story. So we extended it to five minutes and we are very proud of this project."
Four children, aged nine to 14, voiced the characters in the video.
One of them was Iman Nuh Bin Rizal, 12, who was approached by his teacher in Chua Chu Kang Primary School last year about the project.
He said: "Today is my first time watching the animation with my voice in it. I feel happy and proud. It was fun being a part of this."
The video can be viewed on the Istana website.
The Istana grounds were opened on Monday to the team involved in creating the animation as well as beneficiaries from non-profit organisation RiverLife Community Services, in the first Picnic@Istana since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The last time a Picnic@Istana was held was in September 2019 to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival.
Monday marks the 10th Picnic@Istana since the series began in November 2017.
When asked if there are any plans for the Istana to be opened for more picnics, Madam Halimah said: "Certainly, barring unforeseen circumstances. Obviously this is the first (since the pandemic) but this will not be the last."
Madam Halimah said she enjoyed spending time with families and seeing children play at the picnic, adding: "We want the Istana to be family-friendly, to be accessible to ordinary Singaporeans and not just for people to associate it with state functions, with official activities or official duties."
Housewife Salini Kamis, whose family has benefited from RiverLife Community Services since 2016, was at the picnic with her son and daughter.
She told ST: "I am excited to be here. This is my first time at the Istana and the first time meeting President Halimah. I am so happy and grateful that she opened the Istana to us."