All of us have big shoes to fill, but do we understand the challenges that come with every pair? This year’s National Family Celebrations’ opening event, themed “Switch ‘n’ Click”, tackled the root of the problem, encouraging parents, grandparents and children to put themselves into one another’s shoes.
“It is important for kids and parents to look at things from each other’s point of view. They have to switch roles, understand and empathise, in order to stay connected.”
With this line, Mr Seah Kian Peng, the co-chair of NFC Organising Committee 2011 and Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, launched the National Family Celebrations (NFC) 2011.
Titled the “Switch ‘n’ Click Show”, the opening event was held at the Singapore Expo on 25 May, drawing a huge turnout of more than 4,000 students from schools all over Singapore.
Guest-of-Honour for NFC 2011 and Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Sing doled out another nugget of wisdom.
“Besides putting ourselves in one another’s shoes to facilitate understanding and communication, we have to constantly shower affection on our family members too. Social media and technology do help us to maintain networks with our family, but they definitely do not, and cannot replace hugs and kisses.”
Our Youths Take Charge
Keeping in line with the theme, the adults held back from planning the National Family Celebrations this year, handing the reins over to their younger counterparts instead. For the first time, youths from a newly-formed youth workgroup directed the event, offering fresh ideas and suggestions.
Aged between 17 and 26 years, the 7-member workgroup come from a variety of backgrounds and institutions, including:
- National University of Singapore
- Singapore Management University
- Bukit Panjang Government High School
- Hwa Chong Institution
- Catholic Junior College
- National Junior College
- Temasek Junior College
Entertaining the Young
The young audience was kept entertained by dynamic deejay-duo The Muttons, our hosts for the morning. An energetic opening performance by Urban Crew, a drum troupe, and a four-song medley from O School, a dance academy, left the crowd in high spirits and cheering for more.
Insights From The Wise
During the family forum, the speakers shared and discussed their family experiences. The established panel included:
- Celebrity couple Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo
- Comedian Suhaimi Yusof
- Head of youth workgroup for NFC 2011, Soh Yida,
- Excellent Youth Award recipient Lina Chong
- Co-chairs of the NFC 2011 Organising Committee, Mr Lim Soon Hock and Mrs Josephine Yeo
Daniel urged the crowd to realise the importance of family. “Everyone has a different relationship with their family. No matter what, blood is still thicker than water.” Jaime chimed Daniel’s message, sharing that she truly learnt to appreciate her mum when she became a mother herself.
Dispensing advice on the same topic, Mr Lim offered himself as an example. He makes an effort to keep in touch with his parents every day via messages on Facebook and regular family dinners. Similarly, his parents value the close relationship between father, mother and son. Mr Lim is aware of that, emphasising, “Every time I head home for dinner, there’s always a dish I like on the table.”
Lina chronicled her poignant story: she broke her spine at the tender age of 17, and contracted cancer at 30. Throughout the two ordeals, it was her family’s constant encouragement and support that helped her emerged from her illnesses, triumphant.
Learning and Reaping
Fafazirah, a student amongst the crowd, was thoroughly enlightened by the dialogue. She mused online, “Family and friends are hidden treasures. Seek and value them.”
Tweets similar to hers streamed in swiftly and were displayed on a LED screen. @Cherylhearshley tweeted that “pursuing your dream is a family affair” while another inspired student came up with an innovative definition – that FAMILY spells Father + Mother, I Love You.
Walking the Talk
In a flurry of spontaneity, Mrs Josephine got the students to retrieve their mobile phones and send a message of endearment to their parents. Judging from the enthusiastic responses she received, we believe many parents were pleasantly surprised by the declaration of love that day.
The NFC 2011 Opening Event was part of the month-long celebrations, which took place from 25 May to 25 June 2011. During this period, families participated in a wide array of exhilarating family activities.
The celebrations culminated with Family Day Out on 25 June, where Singaporeans were encouraged to spend a day out with their families in their own way, at their own time.
The Family Day Out Carnival was held on the same day at Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade, from 9am to 6pm. Families participated in activities such as:
- Interactive booths with family bonding activities and games
- Flea markets for families to be entrepreneurs together
- Outdoor obstacle course for youths
- Stage performances, games and quizzes for families throughout the day
Alongside the festivities, more than 15,000 free tickets were given out to families, offering them access to various attractions such as the Singapore flyer, The ArtScience Museum, Singapore River Cruise, HiPPO Bus and others.