Bright Horizons Fund’s Chairman and Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How (front centre, in green) poses with beneficiaries at a FAST event held at the Singapore Discovery Centre on 5 August 2023.
On Saturday (5 Aug), about 510 preschool children from less privileged backgrounds and their families experienced life as a soldier by pitching tents, cooking and sampling the food our Singapore Armed Forces soldiers eat in the field at the Singapore Discovery Centre. They also experienced an army obstacle course and went on a tour of the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute.
These activities were part of the Families and School Together (FAST) event organised by NTUC First Campus (NFC) and sponsored by its charity fund Bright Horizons Fund (BHF), which enables children and families from low-income backgrounds to benefit from educational excursions and experiences.
This was the fourth and final FAST excursion in 2023, which was also attended by BHF’s Chairman and Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How. Mr Heng was a volunteer at the event alongside more than 40 NFC staff. More than 1,500 children and their families have attended the previous three FAST events this year.
Fawwas Bin Fazlin, 5, (third from left) and Fathania Athiana Binte Fazlin, 6, (furthest right) enjoy Basha Tent pitching with other BHF beneficiaries.
“Bright Horizons Fund supports preschool children from low-income backgrounds holistically. FAST, a signature programme of the BHF, creates opportunities for benefiting families to go on educational outings. This is a good way to foster both family bonding and home-school partnership,” said Mr Heng.
By providing access to educational experiences these families might not otherwise get, FAST visits to places like the Singapore Zoo or Singapore Discovery centre enable children to broaden their horizons through being exposed to new ideas and experiences.
FAST field trips also bolster social and emotional development by providing families the chance to bond and strengthen their relationships by sharing experiences and exploring new environments together. Interaction with principals and teachers is also made possible through these field trips, strengthening home-school partnerships.
Adam Safiy Bin Muhammad Shamsuri, 4, takes part in the army obstacle course.
Started in 2008, the BHF helps children and families from low-income backgrounds, and also children with learning needs, through various support programmes. These programmes cover these three aspects to ensure holistic support for children and families: financial aid, health and well-being, and learning support.
BHF also constantly reviews its existing programmes to meet the evolving needs of children and families. To bridge the digital divide and build a more inclusive preschool community, the fund launched its ‘Digital Kampung’ programme to lease tablets to low-income families to enhance children’s learning and virtual parent engagement, and also ensure that children could continue with online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To expand its impact on children and families in need, the fund also regularly collaborates with external partners such as OCBC and CapitaLand to make preschool education more accessible and provide learning support programmes and learning journeys for preschoolers.
More than 37,000 children have benefitted from BHF’s programmes thus far, and more than $19 million has also been disbursed to families since BHF started in 2008.
“BHF will be mission-focused and ensure that every child with us enjoys equal opportunity to quality preschool education, regardless of background. This way, we give every child the best chance for a good future,” Mr Heng said.