Covid-19 heroes: Activity kits bring joy to kids in need

For the past 19 years, Ms Sherry Soon has lived with what she calls an “invisible condition”.

The 39-year-old has vasculitis, an auto-immune condition that causes inflammation of her blood vessels and deep, pus-filled ulcers to erupt on her feet whenever it flares up.

She has been hospitalised repeatedly and is on a long-term course of low-grade chemotherapy medication.

In 2016, she left her job as a learning specialist for children with special needs because long hours of standing or walking often triggered her symptoms. The disease has no cure.

But living with vasculitis and working in the social service sector made Ms Soon more sensitive to the difficulties that many in society face.

“Almost everyone has a struggle that we can’t see,” she says.

Be Kind SG, a ground-up volunteer group she founded in 2017, aims to remedy these struggles and bring them into the light.

Among its regular beneficiaries are homes for adults with intellectual disabilities, where volunteers used to conduct workshops and organise events prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

They have recently switched to Zoom sessions, in which they play games and sing songs to keep residents entertained.

“We want to help people connect with different communities in Singapore and better understand one another,” says Ms Soon, who runs Be Kind SG full time.

Her husband, Mr Chen Yingkai, 38, works in a fintech company.

Be Kind SG promotes microvolunteering, so even busy working adults can drop in on activities that are run almost every week.

This year, volunteers took part in more than 10 coronavirus-related projects.

In one such initiative, the group collaborated with the Viva Foundation for Children with Cancer to prepare 100 activity kits for children in hospital.

The kits comprised one of two books from local authors. For instance, Murphy, See How You Shine! by Chen Wei Teng, about a blind special assistance dog, is meant to help readers realise they can all contribute in their own way.

The books were packaged together with activities such as crossword puzzles, colouring sheets and colour pencils.

“With Covid-19 restrictions, volunteers had to stop visiting the children, so we came up with new ways to keep them engaged,” she says.

Working with the South Central Community Family Service Centre, she also took part in Project Masak Masak, creating 220 craft and activity kits for children from low-income families.

The kits, which comprise simple and nostalgic games such as pick-up sticks as well as snakes and ladders, and card games Snap and Old Maid, were designed to give parents a chance to bond with their children.

She adds: “Because of Covid-19 and the circuit breaker, many people felt alone.

“It’s important for them to feel the human connection and that’s why we tried to do projects to bring people together.”

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