On the morning of Saturday, 28th September, the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, which was situated in Yishun, was buzzing with activity. Groups of young children and their parents, who were clad in t-shirts of various colours, such as red, yellow, orange, green and blue, arrived at the centre successively.
They had come to participate in the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool’s fourth annual Sports Day. Besides allowing the little ones to exercise their limbs and the parents to bond with their kids, the event also included educational games that aimed to promote environmental awareness and sustainability.
“Yellow – Perseverance! Yellow – Perseverance! We are the strongest (team)!”
Before the games began, each group shouted out their group chant with much gusto. The groups were named “Faith”, “Perseverance”, “Courage”, “Gratitude” and “Respect”. After some warm-up exercises, every group member was full of spirit and ready to take on the day’s challenges.
The children and their parents were separated into ten groups. Yolanda Samaco, the teacher in charge of planning the day’s activities had designed five different games, two of which served to instill environmental awareness in the little ones.
She said, “There are more and more disasters on Earth, so we hope that the kids will learn to care for the planet with love.”
Yolanda Samaco further shared that in order to instill the environmental message in the children, the Great Love PreSchool has specially designated every Thursday as “Recycling Day” starting from 2017. On this day, the kids will bring recyclables that they have collected at home to the PreSchool and sort them out for recycling.
“We hope that this Sports Day event will help raise the environmental awareness of our students and their parents,” said Yolanda.
She added that even the trophies given out on Sports Day were all made of used plastic bottles and the tokens given to the participants were reusable utensils.
In one of the games, the children were required to sort the items that they had fished out of a bin into two categories – “recyclable” and “non-recyclable”. Some of the kids did not hesitate to ask their teachers when they were not sure of whether an item was recyclable or not.
“I love the fishing game the most. We must do recycling, because Mother Earth has fallen sick,” said 5-year-old Chen Kai Jie.
His mother, Justina, said, “Sometimes, we didn’t know which items cannot be recycled. After coming here today, we’ve learned about it.”
She said that her son would pick up trash and sort it out for recycling, and that he would also bring his handkerchief along when he went out with his family members, to let the latter wipe their hands after washing them.
Another young environmentalist is cute little Tan Xin Yan (pictured below, first from the left). When a volunteer asked her until what age she would care for the earth, she replied, “Until I grow very, very big!”
Little Xin Yan knows that there is a lot of trash in the ocean and that fish will die after eating it. So she understands that it is very important to clear up the trash in the ocean.
Although her teacher said that she was a rather mischievous child in class, she seemed to have taken in the teacher’s words to heart as she said that she would pick up any recyclable that she saw and put it into the blue bin for recycling.
Her mother, Poh Bee Choo, shared, “Sometimes Xin Yan would stop us from buying mineral water as she didn’t want us to use plastic bottles and generate more trash. Because of her, we have developed habits to protect the environment in our daily lives.”
In another game designed with environmental education in mind, the parents held boxes with the labels, “plastic”, “paper” and “aluminum cans” while their children sorted out some recyclables and placed them into the correct boxes.
“Since the school started promoting recycling, my child will come home and tell us what can or cannot be recycled. For example, we learned that some of the milk cartons cannot be recycled,” shared a parent.
This parent said that she really enjoyed the Sports Day event and felt that it could help foster family bonds. She is very supportive of environmental protection as she knows that mankind is harming themselves as they damage the planet, just like the recent haze issue.
In this mini Sports Day event, young children had a chance to run with their parents and overcome hurdles together as they participated in each fun activity. The venue was filled with happy laughter and excited voices as well as occasional cries from children. Apart from heartwarming memories of the event, both the children and adults took home the wholesome message of protecting the environment to care for Mother Earth.