Since 1997, the Singapore Kindness Movement’s (SKM) mission has been to encourage Singaporeans to internalise courtesy and consideration through spontaneous acts of kindness. Helmed by Dr William Wan, the General Secretary of SKM, the movement aspires to inspire goodness.
In fact, it has been successfully creating public awareness about the acts of kindness through the Friend of Singa (FoS) Awards that were launched in 1990.
This year, the movement celebrated a milestone 30th anniversary of the FoS Awards and recognised youthful kindness ambassadors for their efforts in making a positive difference. In total, 160 schools and more than 1,800 students and teachers were recognised for their efforts towards inculcating kindness in their communities.
On this momentous occasion, theAsianparent interviewed Dr William Wan about the VUCA vision of Singapore Kindness Movement and the importance of raising morally educated kids.
“Both parents and children must look to become other-centered”
Dr William Wan, General Secretary, SKM. | Image courtesy: Singapore Kindness Movement
theAsianparent: Why is it important for parents and kids to understand the VUCA world vision?
Dr Wan: It is important that kids and parents not only understand the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world, but it is also imperative that they adopt our VUCA (vigilance, unity, compassion, adaptability) values so that they can emerge stronger and united as a people through any predicament.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to be adaptable towards our surroundings and be vigilant in looking for opportunities for us to positively impact our communities.
The contributions of both parents and children are vital to the larger society as every effort matters, no matter how small.
Both parents and children must look to become other-centered as only when our society sincerely looks out for one another, can we truly progress as a nation.
There have been many ground-up initiatives started by families and children, eg The Socially Distanced Dad. These small yet significant efforts will definitely inculcate resilience and empathy in our next generation.
theAsianparent: What are your thoughts and advice on raising kinder kids?
Dr Wan: Raising moral children is the first step to creating a moral world. Before our children can create a kind and better world, we must first teach them how to be kind. Being precedes Doing.
First, parents must make kindness a priority for their children. Our society tends to focus on achievements over concern for others. Thus, it is imperative that parents actively remind their children of the importance of being kind and moral, even when it is inconvenient.
Second, parents must provide opportunities for their children to practice kindness. In order to inculcate kindness into children, they must actively engage in kind acts. By doing so, they create a habit and being kind would be almost second nature to them.
Third, it is important that parents teach their children how to manage their negative emotions. Oftentimes we abandon kindness when we are overwhelmed by anger, sadness or any other negative emotions. It is imperative that parents equip their children with the tools to cope with these feelings in a productive way.
Fourth, parents need to teach their children to look beyond their own social circles. Only when children start to pay attention to other people and their needs can they begin to understand and empathise with them. They would begin to consider other people’s perspectives and develop concern for them.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important, parents must be strong role models for their children. Telling children to be kind is all well and good, but children learn best by watching and emulating. Since values are more caught than taught, parents must set a good example of kindness in both word and deed.
Image courtesy: Singapore Kindness Movement
theAsianparent: Are there any books parents can read to their children to incorporate the concept of kindness in their lives?
Dr Wan: We do encourage parents to read to their children on a regular and consistent basis. It not only creates a time for parent-child bonding, it also builds up their interest in reading, while inculcating positive values at the same time.
At the Singapore Kindness Movement, we have produced high quality material for parents to read to their children.
For pre-schoolers, we have the Kindsville Series where it narrates the adventures of Singa and his cubbie friends as they navigate the challenges they face in school and life. We have books written by Secondary/ Tertiary students under Write for Kindness Competition held by SKM for Pre-schoolers. These titles include Kindness Police Please, The Fantastic Finn and His Circus of Friends and The Bear and the Hare.
These e-books can be found at the Kindsville website and are available for everyone to download.
For primary school children, we have the Kindsville Times and A-OK, where it includes comics, kindness stories and even activities for Family Time. These are sent to all students in MOE schools and selected private institutions (Upon subscription). But they are also available for download at the Kindsville Website.
Image courtesy: Singapore Kindness Movement
theAsianparent: Please share your thoughts on this year’s winners and any particular example that stood out to you.
Dr Wan: It is so heartening to see so many acts of kindness in the wake of COVID-19. These students have shown that even though their lives were disrupted, it will not stop them from striving to be better. The adversity has truly brought out the best in us.
The Kindness Awards – Friend of Singa has been around for 30 years, and I have always been awed by the students’ efforts in making a positive impact for their immediate community.
There were so many heartwarming examples this year but one particular winner that stood out to me was the NCC cadets of Swiss Cottage Secondary. They had observed a spike in food delivery orders during the Circuit Breaker period, and wanted to express their thanks towards these delivery riders.
These NCC cadets prepared care packages, including appreciation cards penned by students, for the riders. They also interviewed food delivery riders to gain insights into the job and some of the challenges encountered.
Through their interactions with the riders, the children learned to inculcate the value of empathy, which led to them putting their efforts into spreading awareness on the importance of treating delivery riders with respect with the produced video, earning them the coveted Kindness Badge Gold Award.
With Dr. Wan’s effort’s and those of the kids and parents in Singapore, this movement has not only inspired those on the little red dot, but also across the globe. Read more about the movement, here.