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Tomorrow (May 20) is Kindness Day SG!
And as part of the annual festivities on Singapore’s day of celebrating all things kind, Singapore Kindness Movement recognises and welcomes new ground-up movements that focus on making Singapore a more positive, gracious and, yes, a kinder place to live.
Here are four of SKM’s newest inductees.
When I think of strength training, I think of weightlifting and gym-sculptured muscles.
Founded in 2014, the social health club for seniors over the age of 50 strives offers a combination of social, health and care services to promote active ageing.
Besides its weekly workout sessions for seniors at its Commonwealth clubhouse, it also organises other activities like biweekly nature and heritage walks or potluck bonding sessions every three to four months.
This year, Aspire55 launched Lunch Circles, where a group of members will meet for lunch two to three times a month to try out a new cuisine.
Speaking to the founders of Aspire55, Janice Chia, 44, and Yiing Ching Loke, 50, the first question I had was, why the focus on strength training?
“Strength training is essential for our seniors’ aging process because as you age, you may develop sarcopenia,” explains Janice.
This loss of muscle mass and strength affects almost everything in our seniors’ daily lives. It can increase their susceptibility to falling or become frailer as they get older.
Says Janice: “We want our seniors to spend money on fun stuff, not spend money on healthcare!”
“That’s why we encourage them, that you must focus on your strength first. If you have the strength, you have your health and you can do everything you want.”
If you are 50 and above and you’d like to join a community of like-minded people who prioritise health and wellness, sign up here. If you’re younger, don’t worry! You can sign up as part of Friends Of The Village, to keep informed of events that you can volunteer for.
For more information, email [email protected].
Three friends who believe in using art for good founded Thirtytwocm in 2020 during the Covid lockdown.
The social enterprise uses arts and culture to foster collaboration between artists and communities. For example, local artists participate in its annual illustrator art festival and last year, young and budding illustrators created augmented and virtual reality illustrations in an event called Somerset By Youth.
These are just some of the 30 to 50 adhoc events that Thirtytwocm organises every year in different communities.
We spoke to Valerie Ong, 34, one of the three founders of Thirtytwocm and the first question I asked was… what’s with the name?
It’s nothing to do with length, laughs Valerie.
“It actually refers to our guiding principles: 3Cs and 2Ms. Connect, Collab, Co-create Meaning, and Motivation,” she explains.
This acronym guides the founders when organising their activities.
I then asked, why art and not any other activity?
“No matter what stage of life we were at, art brings people together,” she tells The Pride.
Art is free-flowing, fun, and a break from our busy and bustling lives, hence she and her other two founders, Zu Wee and Shwu Peng, wanted to bring the experiences they shared to others.
In Thirtytwocm’s weekly signature programme, Our House Downstairs (OHD), held at community centres across the country, seniors are encouraged to make art and create crafts together, for free.
When it started in July 2020, OHD would only have five seniors during the sessions, recounts Valerie. But over time and via word of mouth, this number has increased to 40 per session today.
With OHD, Valerie and her friends wanted to provide seniors the opportunity to take their minds off the emotional stress that came with the pandemic. They wanted to help seniors foster bonds with one another to reintegrate themselves into society.
And these sessions help seniors even after they finish the activity! Valerie tells us about one auntie who told them that she would send photos of her art to her family group chat.
“She told us, ‘Wah! Finally, no one ignores me in the group chat!’” Valerie laughs.
To find out more about OHD and other Thirtytwocm events, click here.
The Visible Collective SG
Living with chronic pain disorder is not easy. Sometimes, patients endure in silence due to the “invisible” nature of their symptoms.
That is why Rina Ong, 30, started a support group called The Visible Collective SG (TVC SG), to empower individuals with chronic pain and help them feel more seen.
“We realise that many people do not know what chronic pain is, and sometimes people with chronic pain disorders find it hard to talk to their loved ones about it,” Rina tells The Pride.
Rina has fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder that leaves her often tired and in pain. When Rina got her diagnosis in 2015, she found that there was a lack of support groups for chronic pain illnesses like her. That was why she decided to create one in 2022.
She hopes to build a more inclusive society by embracing the diversity of chronic pain illnesses.
TVC SG hosts webinars for healthcare professionals to share advice and insights with the public. Anyone can sign up for these webinars and other programmes here.
To help individuals with chronic pain disorders feel less alone, TVC SG also organises a monthly peer support programme called The Visible Circle for members to share their experiences.
“The community is growing, and everyone is making new friends who they can connect with and share their challenges with, so seeing that really heartens me and it makes me feel warm inside,” Rina says.
TVC SG needs volunteers help co-facilitate programmes like The Visible Circle. If you have a spirit for the community and are interested to volunteer, sign up here.
Overseas Foreign Workers Kindness Movement
Foreign domestic workers provide an invaluable service to the families they work with, taking care of the household and the welfare of its members.
And their weekly day off is a welcome respite from their responsibilities.
Yet, some indomitable foreign domestic workers spend that day giving back to the community.
Behind this inspiring group is 43-year-old Crisanta Guiquing.
In 2017, Cristina started Overseas Foreign Workers Kindness Movement (OFWKM), an initiative that engages migrant workers in Singapore through volunteering. The ground-up movement now has 500 members and still continues to grow.
So what volunteer work do they do? Anything, from cleaning houses for seniors in need or volunteering at CCs.
“I started this so that we (Singapore’s domestic workers) can do something meaningful, and we are happy to give our time, strength and effort to help those in need,” Crisanta tells the Pride.
“I am also dignifying the image of domestic workers and showing people that we’re not ‘just maids’.”
Since her time in community engagement, Crisanta has met many locals and feels more at home in Singapore. But when she first came here in 2006, she felt lost.
She says: “It was a struggle because I had to always adjust… I didn’t know the way of cooking or cleaning and it took some time to learn.”
To adapt, Crisanta started volunteering and attending skill courses by social support groups like FAST (Foreign Domestic Association for Social Support and Training). Now, with OFWKM, she is helping other foreign workers do the same, but getting here took hard-work and persistence.
“When I first started, my employers weren’t so open about it at that time,” Crisanta tells me, “But in 2019, I invited [my employer] to an event where OFWKM received an award, and she realised that what we’re doing is no ordinary thing… she met my friends and we celebrated together”.
If you are interested to find out more, email Crisanta at [email protected]
Kindness Day SG on May 20
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This Saturday, you can meet these new ground-up movements in person at Kindness Day SG!
They and 15 other ground-up movements will be inducted into Singapore Kindness Movement’s Kindred Spirit Circle at PLQ mall from 6pm to 7pm. The guest of honour is the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Edwin Tong.
But that’s just part of a full day of fun activities from 10am to 9pm. There will be exciting events for all ages like storytelling and jamming sessions, featuring performances by musicians Jack and Rai, as well as Aarika Lee and various other groups in the Singapore Kindness Movement.
See you there on Kindness Day SG!
Additional reporting by Jayden Tan