SP Group donates $1.1 million to early childhood programme KidStart to help low-income families

(From left) SP Group chief executive Stanley Huang, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling, Community Chest vice-chairman Chew Sutat and KidStart chief executive Rahayu Buang at the event. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Utilities company SP Group has donated $1.1 million to KidStart, which helps children up to age six from low-income families get a good start in life.

The money will go towards two new programmes - KidStart Sea Adventures Play and KidStart Stories - and benefit 3,000 children and their families this year.

KidStart Sea Adventures Play was launched at the Aliwal Arts Centre on Tuesday (June 21) to support the Year of Celebrating SG Families, a campaign by the Ministry of Social and Family Development to celebrate the importance of families.

KidStart Stories, which will be introduced in October, encourages parents to spend time with their children and inculcate good reading habits. Bookshelves, storybooks and reading guides will be provided to the families.

At the launch of KidStart Sea Adventures Play, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling urged parents to engage in more family-bonding activities with their children.

She said: "Our Government is committed to building a fairer and more inclusive society. We want to ensure that our children have a good start in life because that is a key enabler to achieving that outcome."

During the event, 30 KidStart families made hand puppets and lanterns in the shape of sea creatures such as jellyfish and turtles.

Theatre company How Drama performed an interactive play adapted from My Caring Friends At Sea, a book by KidStart early childhood consultant Puspavalli Namasivayam.

The play, about a shark that makes friends with other sea creatures, teaches children to care for others and the importance of community.

As upbeat musical numbers were played, children were encouraged to sing along and interact with the actors.

As part of KidStart's nationwide expansion, the play will be restaged in various neighbourhoods.

In addition to the donation, SP will continue to provide learning resources and IT tools such as tablets and Internet access to the children, as well as financial support to address urgent essential needs.

Last year, SP donated $1 million to KidStart, benefiting more than 2,000 children.

Chinese tutor Moey Choy Yin, 73, who was at the play with her grandchildren, Evan Lim, six, and Eunice Lim, 12, said in Mandarin that Evan enjoyed the show.

Thanks to KidStart programmes he has attended, he was confident enough to participate in activities on stage.

She said that as her family members speak mainly Mandarin at home, KidStart's English tuition classes have helped her grandson build a stronger foundation in the language.

Madam Moey added that she is also grateful for the fresh fruits and vegetables, storybooks and toys delivered to their home under KidStart's initiative. These have helped to alleviate the family of eight's financial burden.

KidStart chief executive Rahayu Buang said support from companies such as SP helps parents to have more bandwidth to focus on their children instead of worrying about bread-and-butter issues.

"The early years, below (age) six, are so critical for the child's development," she added. "So we come in to empower the families, affirm the things that they are already doing well with their children and help them to achieve their aspirations for the children."

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