Project Good Sam: OHANA - One Helps ANother Always
“Project Good Sam” was borne out of a desire to help preschoolers grow up honouring every individual they meet. In an initial think-tank meeting, Ms N. Kannigadevi, the Assistant Director of the Capability Support Division of Presbyterian Community Services (PCS) shared, “preschool children do not actually see the girls from Grace Orchard School differently. They recognize them as adults, as teachers.” In other words, upbringing, culture, education and experiences greatly influence how children view people with disability and/or special needs. Thus, part of the project involves promoting inclusivity. On 22nd April 2021, PCS Yishun Centre launched “Project Good Sam” by hosting a Pebble Art Painting workshop. Instead of letting the class teachers run the entire show, we invited youths from Grace Orchard School to join us. Ms Danisha and Ms Vanessa, who are both undergoing the Teacher Child Care Aide (TCCA) training, were also on-site with the class, whereas Mr Jun Jie and Mr Ramdan joined us virtually.
The event began with a story on a variety of animals Old MacDonald had on his farm. As Ms Danisha and Ms Vanessa told the story, peals of laughter echoed throughout the classroom. The youths even had to pause between sentences longer than rehearsed, for the children’s excitement was palpable and uncontainable! The animals were not new, neither was Old MacDonald as a character, but the children were continually surprised as new animals kept emerging! In preparation for this storytelling session, the TCCA youths had rehearsed days leading up to the event. There were also animals prepared as props in the form of painted pebbles! The children were thrilled by such creative expression of a simple, and well-known nursery rhyme. When the opportunity came for them to paint their pebbles, they really could not wait! That’s when Mr Jun Jie and Mr Ramdan joined us via Zoom. Pre-Covid, this would have been an in-person workshop, but with the help of technology, they could conduct the workshop even when they are physically on their campus in Jurong.
Mr Jun Jie and Mr Ramdan have been learning and preparing themselves to conduct these workshops in person with the elderly at PCS’ Senior Activity Centers. Last Thursday, they had to adapt to a radically different audience, and conduct the workshop through a vastly different medium. They rose to the challenge and waited patiently for the children who were learning to listen to one instruction at a time. They also stayed calm and composed even when things did not go according to what they had planned or rehearsed. The children enjoyed themselves so thoroughly that they presented their Earth Day song with so much enthusiasm. We are confident they are already looking forward to the next collaboration happening! By preparing for this experience, the youths’ dedication, and willingness to rise to the challenge were also evident.
From April till September 2021, we hope to showcase the passion and talents of youth with special needs through a series of collaborations. We invite you to follow on our Project Good Sam journey as we recover the view that all individuals, no matter their abilities, are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Check out some of the photos taken on the Launch Event below!