SINGAPORE - "My heart moves when it feels love. It moves to my friends. The love feels like music coming out of me. It feels like sayang music."
These are the words in a short story titled Sayang Flowers by six-year-old Aryssha Balqis Abdullah. She attends Child At Street 11, a non-profit centre that provides pre-school and after-school care services for children between two and six years old.
Stories by Aryssha, who is in Kindergarten 2, and six of her friends are compiled in a book called Sayang. Tchaikovsky. Ole!
The stories are about anything that strikes the children most - from shadows and grandmothers, to music notes and even being a president when they grow up.
It is a project by the graduating cohort and this year's book is the seventh so far.
The young authors met President Halimah Yacob on Thursday (Dec 21) when she visited the school. They greeted her with songs and hugs, and chatted with her.
Founded in 1999 by a group of professionals, Child At Street 11, located in Ang Mo Kio, caters to young children of all races from low-income and dysfunctional families. The children go through project-based learning adapted from the Reggio Emilia approach, a kind of teaching philosophy where the child is at the centre of learning.
"They all come with their own baggage, and sometimes, they don't know how to express that. So we teach them a can-do attitude that helps them grow," said principal Shanti De Mello.
The centre, which has 48 pupils and six full-time teachers, will launch an infant care programme next year for children between two and eleven months old. For a start, it will take in 16 infants.
Attila Tan, 14, a teaching assistant and alumna of the centre, volunteers during her holidays.
"I'm proud to say I'm from this school. The kids here are really friendly. I didn't come for volunteer points, I came because I love the culture here, to let kids be kids," she said.
The Compassvale Secondary 2 student, who helps shower, feed and play with the children, hopes to pursue her interest in childcare, starting with her volunteer work.
For Aryssha, getting the President to sign a book she helped write was exciting.
"I'm proud of my story and I'm happy the President came to our school. I wrote about the colourful flowers that I love in the Istana and the sayang (love) around me," she said.