New President's Challenge memorabilia launched at Istana's Open House

President Halimah Yacob meets beneficiaries of the President’s Challenge after the unveiling, on Feb 17, 2018. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
President Halimah Yacob watches a performance at the Istana during the launch. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
President Halimah Yacob unveils the President’s Challenge Memorabilia. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Visitors to the Istana will now be able to have a memento of the President's official residence.

On Saturday (Feb 17), President Halimah Yacob launched a new series of memorabilia, in conjunction with the Istana's Open House on the second day of Chinese New Year.

The items included leather key chains, fridge magnets and notebooks, designed by the beneficiaries of four organisations - Personalised Love, Club Heal, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore and Ain Society.

These items will be available to visitors who make a donation to the President's Challenge, an annual community outreach and fund-raising campaign.

The collaboration aims to raise awareness of the causes supported by these organisations, as well as give the beneficiaries a greater sense of pride and achievement in their artwork.

"It gives the beneficiaries a chance to showcase their talents and abilities," said Madam Halimah.

She noted that the names of the artists, who include those with autism, cerebral palsy and cancer, as well as the organisations they are beneficiaries of, are included on the various items.

This can "start conversations" and raise awareness on the causes they support, she said.

One of Club Heal's beneficiaries, housewife Rafeah Md Said, 53, who has anxiety and depression, painted a picture of a pair of swans at the Istana's swan pond.

The picture is used on a large fridge magnet, one of the Istana's new memorabilia.

"We want to show that people with mental health issues can also contribute to society," said Dr Radiah Salim, president of Club Heal, which offers rehabilitation and counselling services to those with mental illnesses.

Personalised Love is a social enterprise that hires those with special needs, including autism, and intellectual disabilities, to produce corporate gifts.

Ain Society provides cancer patients and their families with financial help, counselling, classes and workshops. It also conducts active ageing programmes for the elderly.

This was Madam Halimah's first Chinese New Year at the Istana since becoming head of state in September last year.

Touring the grounds with her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, Madam Halimah took in various performances for the open house.

These included a lion dance performance by the Shan Long Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe, a band performance by the Woodgrove Secondary School symphonic band and a Wushu performance by students from Dunman High School.

More than 22,000 people visited the Istana on Saturday.

One visitor was Mr Chung Chun He, 40, who came with his family.

Mr Chung, who works in the financial sector, last visited the Istana during an open house in 2016.

"We're not doing any visiting today, so we thought we would bring the children to the Istana to take in the sights, and catch a glimpse of the President," he said.

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