'Kindness tree', food drive for the needy among student-led initiatives that bag awards

St Hilda's Primary School student Asher Koh started a “kindness tree” for his schoolmates to pen a kind act that they did, received or saw. PHOTO: ST HILDA'S PRIMARY SCHOOL

SINGAPORE - When Covid-19 showed no sign of letting up in June last year, Utkarsh Choudhary, 12, and Mathangi Gowri Sankar and Nityasri Brinda, both 13, became worried about low-income people facing food shortages.

The trio from DPS International School, together with seven friends from school, decided to collect food donations from their schoolmates to donate to food charity Food From The Heart for distribution to the needy.

To raise awareness of the harms of food waste and ways to reduce it, they engaged their peers in interactive presentations, including competitions, and poster and mascot-making sessions.

Over several weeks, the team led by Utkarsh, Mathangi and Nityasri collected from the student body 135 packets of rice, 138 packets of beehoon and 183 packets of biscuits, as well as other food items such as cooking oil, instant noodles and canned food. . Utkarsh and Mathangi are in Secondary 1 level while Nityasri is in Secondary 3 level. 

Food From The Heart said the donations would be sent to an aged-care facility. 

The student group was among the 75 schools and more than 1,300 students and teachers recognised at a virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday (Jan 18) for playing a part in promoting kindness.

Organised by the Singapore Kindness Movement, the Annual School Kindness Awards aim to cultivate kindness in schools and recognise students and teachers who have championed kindness in their communities.

At the event, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said: "The long shadow of Covid-19 has undoubtedly challenged many of us. Some among us are stressed, anxious, frustrated and even burnt out.

"I am heartened that many Singaporeans like you have chosen to look beyond yourself, to show care, compassion, and kindness to people around you, during this extraordinary period."

Among the other winners was a team from Singapore Chinese Girls' School, which rolled out an Instagram campaign to promote a kampung spirit among Singaporeans.

Illustrations with two mascots were used to encourage people to initiate simple acts of neighbourliness, such as holding the lift door open for others.

Team leaders Nicole Emily Thomas and Lim Zi Xiu Jazzy, both aged 15 and in Secondary 4, said the project was inspired by a desire to counter the lack of interaction between neighbours due to the pandemic.

DPS International School students Anagha Sanjay Kumar (far left), Signet Johnson (second from left), Utkarsh Choudhary (second from right) and Hifza Nuryn (far right) decided to collect food donations to donate to Food from the Heart. PHOTO: DPS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

Another award winner was pupil Asher Koh, 13, who started a "kindness tree" at St Hilda's Primary School when he was in Primary 6. Schoolmates can pen notes on a kind act that they did, received, or saw on "leaves", which they paste on the tree in the school canteen.

Asher encouraged his peers to read the notes on the kindness tree to learn how acts of kindness can brighten someone's day.

Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, said: "Kindness that's sparked by one can spread to others, creating a ripple effect that leads to a stronger school and community."

Singapore Chinese Girls’ School students Nicole Emily Thomas and Lim Zi Xiu Jazzy, 15, created Project Liftoff to promote neighbourliness. PHOTO: PROJ.LIFTOFF/INSTAGRAM

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