For immediate release
ChariTrees 2020: Lighting up Marina Bay in support of the fight against Covid-19
- President of Singapore Halimah Yacob officiates light-up of ChariTrees at Marina Bay on Sunday, 15 November 2020, 7 pm
- Light-up honours community heroes who have stepped up during the Covid-19 public health crisis
- Fundraises for Samaritans of Singapore and the #ENGAGE initiative which addresses needs that have arisen during this period, funds raised to-date $211,000
- The public is encouraged to donate at www.giving.sg/the_rice_company/charitrees2020
15 November 2020 – On Sunday evening 15th November, annual fundraising movement ChariTrees 2020 will light up Marina Bay this year in support of the fight against the ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis.
ChariTrees 2020 will focus on two social causes that have become urgent during the current situation and recognise the efforts of community heroes who have contributed for the betterment of the underserved during this period.
The two social causes are: Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) which carries out intervention and suicide prevention services and the #ENGAGE Initiative by arts and culture organisation TRCL which provides vulnerable children with digital devices and digital-art programmes to equip them with know-how and creative skills. These charities epitomise key concerns wrought by the pandemic that many Singaporeans are facing this year: mental well-being and digital inclusivity. To date, the ChariTrees movement has raised about $211,000 for these two charities.
Says Mr Tan Puay Kern, Chairman of the ChariTrees 2020 Organising Committee, “We are grateful to all our donors, sponsors and partners for their support and generous giving spirit. As 2020 draws to a close, we hope the ChariTrees will be a source of inspiration and light to all of us, cheering us on in our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In such challenging times, it is even more important that we continue to remember and support those in need amongst us. Together, we can make this year-end season of giving and goodwill more meaningful and significant.”
Now in its 10th year, ChariTrees is a movement that sees Marina Bayfront Waterfront Promenade being lit up by specially designed Christmas Trees. Past beneficiaries of ChariTrees have included The Business Times Budding Artists Fund which provide arts education for economically distanced young talents and the Community Chest. ChariTrees 2020 is organized by arts and culture organisation, TRCL (The Rice Company Ltd).
ChariTrees 2020 will also recognise the efforts of individuals whom throughout this public health crisis have stepped out to alleviate the challenges and suffering faced by the underserved.
These community heroes include (see Annex A for details):
- Park$2Project which collaborated with Kindness Mart delivered essentials to the needy
- Project Stable Staples which raised funds to support those living in rental blocks during the Circuit Breaker period
- Art4SGMW, a team of psychotherapists and art practitioners, who supported the emotional well-being of migrant workers during the public health crisis
- PleaseStay. Movement which advocates support for suicide prevention and mental health amongst youths in Singapore.
Says Mr Gasper Tan, Chief Executive of Samaritans of Singapore, “During celebratory periods, there are pockets of society that may not have the privilege to celebrate with their loved ones. The trees are dedicated to those who are struggling during this period. It also serves as a reminder that no matter how tough it gets in the journey of life, one does not have to face the challenges alone.”
President Halimah Yacob will officiate the light-up of the trees this Sunday 15th November. In keeping with on-going safe distancing measures, the light up will be streamed online to donors and stakeholders on the evening after the event. The trees will light up Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade up till 26 December.
Adds Mr Tan Tee Tong, Chief Operating Office, of co-organiser TRCL: “We’re indeed grateful for the support shown by our donors who keep the spirit of giving alive during this difficult time. ChariTrees allows us to enrich the community and the lives of our most vulnerable and needy.”
The donors of ChariTrees 2020 are: Gold Donors — Arrowcrest Technologies Pte Ltd, Certis, PAP Community Foundation, and Sian Chay Medical Institution; Silver Donors — Century Evergreen Pte Ltd, Dr Daniel Fung, and Hatten Group. Our partners include production partner Rich-Art Enterprises Pte Ltd, venue partner Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and marketing partner Northpoint City.
COMMUNITY HEROES: WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER
Who They Are: Driven by the credence of art therapy as a force for healing and as a practice for social change, Art4SGMW: Art for Singapore Migrant Workers, is an art-based support program initiated by seven art therapists.
What They Did: The project provided individually-packed art materials like colour pencils, crayons, and markers to 600 male migrant workers living in dormitories, and 53 domestic workers residing in a shelter run by HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics). Through Facebook, ART4SGMG invited collaboration between the migrant workers and local communities, bringing awareness of art therapy as a healing agent for society.
Campus PSY Limited
Who They Are: Campus PSY is a “By Youths, For Youths” non-profit organization that builds community for youths with mental health issues to feel supported and cared for in their darkest, loneliest moments. Campus PSY does this by promoting mental health awareness and peer support among youths and young adults through advocacy, training, support, and volunteering.
What They Did: They curated a series called Conversation Buddy PSY which helped the community recognise the early signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression experienced by young people in a post-Covid world and how to give the kind of support they need.
Matchsticks of IMH
Who They Are: They are a group of young passionate volunteers committed to serving the mental health community based in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
What They Did: The Covid-19 pandemic did not stop their passion in supporting the residents in the long-stay wards. When their weekly sessions were halted, Matchsticks’ volunteers turned to Zoom calls to engage the residents through Bingo, art therapy, upcycling workshops, and dance. Matchsticks also put together 750 handmade journaling packs, each with handwritten notes to the patients at IMH. They also partnered with senior activity centre PEACE-Connect to manage and deliver food during the Circuit Breaker period.
Park $2 Project (P2P)
Who They Are: PARK $2 Project is made up of like-minded people who want to make our community a more heartwarming place to live. Not only do they act as a platform for other ground-up initiatives to reach a wider audience, P2P also gives Singaporeans an avenue to give back to their community. Community leaders from various ground-up initiatives work closely with charity organisations and the general public to create a healthy and balanced kindness ecosystem to help those in need for the long term.
What They Did: Among the many initiatives to boost the spirits of medical workers, was a coffee vending machine project to provide 5,000 cups of premium coffee at two restructured hospitals. They also provided goodie bags of food and toiletries to 205 needy families when panic-buying swept across the island. P2P also oversaw the distribution of meals to more than 1,000 seniors during the Circuit Breaker period.
Who They Are: The PleaseStay. Movement was founded on 29 October 2019 by a group of mothers who lost their children, aged 11 to 29, to suicide. Their children had suffered varying degrees of mental illness and distress. The group believes that the complexity of youth suicide and its sources of depression, anxiety, and mental illness, urgently requires a national strategy on suicide prevention involving various sectors of society. This clarion call rings loud for society to act now to save lives.
What They Did: Through their grief, these mothers banded together to amplify the need for greater action to support young people at risk of suicidal behaviour, including improvements to mental health services, school programmes, and social support systems. Their collective voices broke the silence on youth suicide as they shared openly about their personal experiences and offered insights into coping with grief and mental struggle. Over the past year, the group has engaged government agencies to discuss better support systems for youths, and worked with like-minded agencies like SOS to encourage responsible dialogue on mental illness, suicide, and loss.
Project Stable Staples
Who They Are: Project Stable Staples is a ground-up initiative started by youths who raised funds to support low-income families with their grocery bills and need for everyday staples. In the months leading up to the Circuit Breaker, people who worked part-time or earned hourly wages either lost their jobs or brought home less money. Many large families living in rented lodgings were adversely affected.
What They Did: From April to September, the youth behind PSS raised donations from the public and distributed $60 Fairprice vouchers to 628 families, benefitting a total of 3055 adults and children. While these might not be enough to tide these families through the tough times, PSS believes these vouchers directly allowed these families to afford the staples they needed. [Beyond Stable Staples, Bringing Love to Every Single Soul (BLESS) and I Am Talented (IAT)] will continue their efforts in enriching and empowering the lives of those from low-income households, bringing along the #SGStrong spirit the nation has displayed during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Who They Are: SilverGood is a group that used Facebook to reach out to seniors in activities that got them moving while housebound through exercise, art making, songs, stories, even cooking. Their outreach has been so well-received that activities are still ongoing.
What They Did: Through SilverGood’s Facebook, people from all walks of life, including seniors themselves, went live. Both regular and one-off appearances brought into many homes the talents and warmth of Singaporeans (even friends overseas!) and brought cheer to many who felt lonely. Watch these recordings on the SilverGood Facebook page, and also on SilverGood’s YouTube channel. Share them with those who will benefit. SilverGood is supported by Moses Sia and Lee Sze-Chin.
The Tapestry Project Ltd
Who They Are: The Tapestry Project Ltd is an independent, non-profit online publication that champions mental health education and empowerment. It does this by publishing a tapestry of stories woven together with the common threads of hope and resilience.
What They Did: The stories are written by persons-in-recovery, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. These stories aim to inspire hope, reclaim dignity, and promote an inclusive, empathetic society that embraces people with mental health struggles without shame or prejudice. In addition, The Tapestry Project Ltd also conducts resilience-oriented writing workshops in schools, workplaces, and the public, through its narrative therapy based re:story programme.
The Red Pencil (Singapore)
Who They Are: The Red Pencil (Singapore) is an organisation focused on sharing the benefits of art therapy to children, adults, and families who are unable to verbally express the emotions caused by overwhelming life circumstances. Their programmes are typically conducted face-to-face, however, that did not stop them from finding ways to push through amidst Covid-19.
What They Did: In the face of the pandemic, the team devised innovative ways of reaching out to its partners and the community. To cope with the heightened levels of stress and anxiety brought about by the pandemic, The Red Pencil launched a number of online initiatives to ensure that vulnerable children, women, and families, continued to receive much-needed emotional and psychological support. This included Online Art Therapy Experiential Workshops, the “Keep Calm, Make Art” social media campaign, and online art therapy clinical sessions.
Who They Are: 3Pumpkins is a non-profit arts organisation that continuously pushes the boundaries of arts-based platforms to connect and build positive relationships in the community especially for the isolated elderly and the vulnerable young.
What They Did: During the circuit breaker, 3Pumpkins produced two art projects: Say it Louder Teahouse, a podcast programme in the Chinese dialects, Malay, and Tamil, that has reached out to over 3000 isolated seniors, and Stay Home Quilt, a community quilting project that has engaged both the local and migrant workers’ communities. To fill the emotional void that children from low-income families often face, like depression, anxiety, and boredom, they operate Tak Takut Kids Club in Boon Lay. This kids club is a community space where children and youth hang out together and thrive in an environment of joy, care, and mutual support.
#Engage Initiative by TRCL
1. Introduction: Background to #Engage Initiative
The recent Covid-19 public health crisis highlighted the social impact of the “digital divide” more than ever.
Through a collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE) during the Circuit Breaker period which provided online engagement programmes for vulnerable children and youths within the safe environment of their schools, TRCL noted three gaps in society: a lack of access to digital devices among certain groups; a lack of digital literacy; a need for wholesome and original creative content.
Called #Engage 1 & 2, this collaboration which saw the launch of a new online arts festival platform where students could showcase both visual and performing arts work to the wide community also highlighted how such programmes impart new skills, build positive values and confidence and provide a wholesome experience for children with vulnerable background.
2. Past Programmes of #Engage
The first phase of #Engage which was held over two weeks in the month of April, saw a series of online training programmes in visual arts, theatre and dance and educational lifestyle activities which were made accessible by close to 800 students from 36 primary and secondary schools as well as almost 300 beneficiaries of The Business Times Budding Artists Fund that is managed by TRCL.
#Engage2.0 : An Online Arts Festival
Held during a four-week period over eight sessions during the May school holidays, stage one of #Engage2.0 saw student groups working on producing works centered around the themes of either hope, gratitude or resilience under the guidance of their trainers. All of this culminated in an online arts festival which featured 74 works of various art forms done by more than 300 students from 19 primary and 14 secondary schools on our virtual gallery or performance videos uploaded on https://www.engage.therice.sg/festival/.
3. Observations & Impact of #Engage on Beneficiaries
#Engage collectively reached out to a total of more than 1,000 students thus far. The students’ write-ups and reflection journal entries reflected that these programmes had a great impact on their lives.
Of note is that from one of the write ups, the team was able to detect a student with suicidal thoughts. The team alerted the principal of the school immediately and informed MOE and timely intervention was effected and the student was referred to a counsellor.
Additionally, as a co-organiser of #Engage2.0, the Programme Office of MOE createda padlet platform where 65 participants penned their thanks towards this programme. In addition to these notes of gratitude, wherein their artwork write-ups, almost all of the students expressed thanks for the dedication of trainers, kindness of sponsors, opportunity to learn new skills, have fun at home, and discover new hobbies. More importantly, the majority indicated that they would like to participate in this programme again.
4. The #Engage Initiative
The necessity of such initiatives was recently highlighted by President Halimah Yacob during the announcement of 2020’s President’s Challenge which is themed on building a digitally inclusive society. President Halimah noted that it was important for “social service agencies to really look at ways of giving access to our vulnerable communities, to the digital tools, to skills, to connectivity” as this was the only such communities could help remain economically and socially active.
To date plans articulated – such as those by MOE to provide digital devices to students – do not extend to vulnerable children from primary schools.
Here, #Engage Initiative by TRCL aims to build a digitally inclusive society through:
- Providing digital devices for vulnerable children
- Developing original arts and culture programmes which engender creativity, inspire the acquisition of new skills and impart wholesome values
- Developing an annual online arts festival platform which showcases the creativity and voices of children and youth to the community.
With #Engage, children from vulnerable communities will be able to have:
- their own access to digital devices
- free access to programme which will allow them to (a) be familiar with operating hardware and software and basic (b) develop digital content (c) acquire future skills eg AR/VR coding, online production, editing and creative skills
#Engage aims to reach out to 300 children annually.
President Halimah noted that it was important for “social service agencies to really look at ways of giving access to our vulnerable communities, to the digital tools, to skills, to connectivity” as this was the only such communities could help remain economically and socially active.
Past media coverage for #Engage
SPH School Publications
Samaritans of Singapore
Launched in 1969, SOS has grown to be an a well-established not for profit organisation which provides a comprehensive package of crisis intervention and suicide prevention services:
- 24-hour crisis support hotline
- Email befriending service
- Specialist counselling
- Suicide bereavement support group (Healing Bridge)
- Outreach to local suicide survivors (LOSS)
- Volunteer training, workshops, and collaborations
“Going forward, we will invest more resources in upstream, preventive work. Increasingly, we are tapping on social media to promote suicide awareness and start conversations on how everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention… Fundamental to the strategic plan are three enablers: capacity and capability building of our human resource, bigger premise for effective operation and an enhanced, scalable IT & Telephony system.”
Ms Lee Sook Feng, Chairman of SOS
3. Impact of SOS
In a The Straits Times article on 29 April 2020, SOS shared that it received 3,826 calls last month (March), 23% more than the 3,121 calls in March last year.
Marketing Communications, TRCL
ChariTrees 2019 is organised by not-for-profit arts organisation and charity, The RICE Company Limited. ChariTrees celebrates Singapore’s community heroes and is also a fundraiser for The Business Times Budding Artists Fund and several-other charities. From 2011 to 2017, ChariTrees was a fundraising initiative by the Community Chest.
The recent Covid-19 public health crisis highlighted the social impact of the “digital divide” more than ever. Through a collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE) during the Circuit Breaker TRCL noted three gaps in society: a lack of access to digital devices among certain groups; a lack of digital literacy; a need for wholesome and original creative content. #Engage by TRCL aims to build a digitally inclusive society through: Providing digital devices for vulnerable children, developing original arts and culture programmes which engender creativity, inspire the acquisition of new skills and impart wholesome values, and developing an annual online arts festival platform which showcases the creativity and voices of children and youth to the community.
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) is a secular, non-profit suicide prevention centre. Since its establishment in 1969, SOS has developed into a professionally run and managed organisation. It adopts a holistic approach to suicide-related topics, focusing on prevention, intervention and postvention, an intervention conducted after a suicide for loved ones and friends. With the mission to be an available lifeline to anyone in crisis, SOS offers emotional support to people in crisis, thinking of suicide, or affected by suicide. All information shared with SOS is treated as confidential and people can choose to remain anonymous.
About TRCL (The RICE Company Limited)
TRCL is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity with IPC (Institutions of Public Character) status. TRCL seeks to harness the potential of the arts to benefit under-served children and youths in the community. TRCL manages a social fund (The Business Times Budding Artists Fund), arts centres (The Little Arts Academy and 10 Square Youth) in Northpoint Ccity and Orchard Central, creative spaces (The Pavilion at Far East Square and Hillside1820) and two subsidiaries (Global Cultural Alliance and Millet Holdings). For more information, visit www.therice.sg
Founded in 2014 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of TRCL, Global Cultural Alliance Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation which focuses on developing an inclusive Singapore society through arts and culture programmes and positioning Singapore as a cultural hub for the exchange of ideas and shared experiences. GCA achieves its aims through two strategic thrusts, Building Communities and Bridging Borders. For more information, visit www.globalculturalalliance.sg