Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at Arc Children's Centre Gala Lunch on 18 September 2022.
Chairman of Charity Council, Dr Gerard Ee
Patron of Arc Children’s Centre, Mrs Goh Chok Tong
Chairman of Arc, Mr Chia Ngiang Hong
Co-founders, Ms Ronita Paul and Ms Geraldine Lee
Supporters of Arc, children of Arc
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be with you this afternoon.
A decade of changing lives
Let me first extend my warmest congratulations to the Arc team. You just celebrated your 10th anniversary last year.
As you embark on a second decade, I am glad you continue to realise your vision of helping each child who comes to you, to find joy again.
Arc was founded in 2011 by Ronita and Geraldine.
They were motivated by a promise made to a young boy with cancer. His last wish was for a safe and welcoming place for children like him to have a normal life of learning, playing, and having friends.
Over the years, from the seed of that one promise, Arc has blossomed.
Arc started small, with 11 children under your care. Today, you are taking care of more than 50 children in your daycare centre.
You have served as the pillar of hope and support for over 200 families, regardless of race or religion.
By taking care of the children, you also provide invaluable respite for their parents. They know that their children are in safe hands, and that they can count on the support of fellow parents who are going through similar challenges.
Through your programmes and services, you have improved the quality of life of many children and their families.
Arc has put emphasis on helping these children learn and develop just like any other child.
For example, Arc provide lessons in the languages, mathematics, science, and even coding! You also have enrichment activities that help with confidence and character building, such as music, speech & drama, physical exercises, and many others.
A real testament to your success is that many who have benefited are now paying it forward.
Children who have grown up with Arc are now volunteering to care for their little brothers and sisters.
One example is Hui Wen. She is 23 years old and training to be a Pharmacist. She aims to inspire the children to achieve their dreams and guide them along the way, just as Arc has done for her all these years.
Every school break, over 30 Arc graduates return to help with the little ones.
Strengthening social compact
Looking ahead to the next decade, I am confident that Arc will continue to make a real impact to the lives of many.
Over the years, you have responded to evolving needs and adapted.
For example, when your capacity at your original centre in Kim Keat Road could no longer keep up with the growing demand, you galvanised support to set up a new centre in Whampoa.
And despite COVID-19 affecting your fundraising efforts and operations, you have not scaled back your support to families in the past two years.
During the circuit breaker, you quickly pivoted to send activity packs to the families, and conducted lessons over zoom for the children so that they could continue with their learning. And when the children were subsequently able to return to the centre, you did all you can to ensure that it was a safe and clean environment for them, by tightening your processes and stepping up cleaning.
Arc’s unwavering commitment to your cause is inspiring.
I have also been greatly encouraged by the sense of unity and generosity that Singaporeans have demonstrated during the pandemic, especially in uplifting those who are in need.
But there is more to do. Each one of us has a role to play in strengthening our social compact in the years ahead.
This is also why DPM Lawrence Wong has launched the Forward Singapore exercise, and I hope everyone will give this your fullest support.
To the donors here today, I am heartened that you are doing your part to build a better Singapore.
For those who have already made donations, I thank you for your generosity.
For those who are able to, I encourage you to further contribute to this worthy cause.
The Government and Tote Board will be providing up to $250,000 in matching grants.
I hope that we can continue to nurture and strengthen this culture of giving.
I congratulate Arc Children’s Centre for your excellent work in the past decade, and I am sure you will continue to make a real difference in the years ahead.
Finally, I also want to take this opportunity to honour the memory of your founding Chairman Dr Rita Yeoh, who left us a few months ago.
Hers is a well-lived life of service and purpose.
As Rita once said, the very calling of Arc is love – to bring true and committed love to our children.
I fully agree.
I wish you all the best as you continue to help build a caring and inclusive Singapore, one child at a time.
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