Sounds of cheer filled the Toa Payoh Stadium on the morning of 24th June 2018. A group of parents and children tightly clutched bottles of water or packages as they carefully walked under a series of hurdles or across wooden planks to get to their destination. As this game was designed to simulate a disaster relief operation, the participants were seen carrying “relief supplies” as they went through several challenges, to reach a “disaster zone”, where they personally handed the “aid” to “disaster victims”.
The group of adults and children participants hailed from Tzu Chi Singapore’s Parent-Child Bonding Class and Teenagers’ Class, and they were participating in the inaugural Tzu Shao Parent-Child Sports Meet. With the aim of allowing the students and their parents to gain a better understanding of the Four Missions of the Foundation, namely, Charity, Medicine, Education and Humanistic Culture, the games were designed based on the concepts of these Missions.
The bus carrying the parents and children arrived at the stadium early in the morning. Just then, the overcast sky started to drizzle. However, thanks to the prayers by everyone, the clouds gradually cleared to give way to a clear day. Despite the light rain earlier on, everyone remained energetic and engrossed in the activities.
The participants were divided into eight groups, which were named after the eight practices of the Noble Eightfold Path, namely “Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Mindfulness, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, and Right Concentration”. With a lively tune playing in the background, a team of Tzu Chings (members of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association) led everyone through an energetic warm-up session.
To give the children an opportunity to learn and experience the process of a disaster relief operation, the organising team had specially designed the game that simulated disaster relief to test the children’s response skills, tactfulness, perseverance and team spirit.
The activity aimed to teach the children to empathise with the hardships faced by disaster victims and to allow them to experience how Tzu Chi volunteers cooperated with one another to personally distribute relief supplies to disaster victims in the shortest time possible.
“I never realised that there is so much preparation work to be done prior to a disaster relief operation. The process of getting the relief supplies to the disaster victims is actually not easy,” shared a parent, Chai Buay Ching (first from the right in the picture below).
Mdm Chai shared her thoughts after participating in the activity with her child, Shen Zhuang En. As she couldn't bend her body in the process of delivering the relief supplies due to her knee problem, she could deeply feel the hardship of Tzu Chi’s disaster relief volunteers. Inspired and touched, she pledged to help people who are in need in the future.
Madam Chai also revealed that her son has learned to be grateful after joining the Tzu Chi Parent-child Bonding Class, and the relationships among her family members have become more harmonious. The Jing Si Aphorism, “Kind words are like pure lotus flowers; cruel and demeaning words are like poisonous snakes”, which her son had learned from the Class had taught him to speak gently to people and to refrain from harmful speech.
At the centre of the sports stadium, a group of Tzu Shaos (students from the Teenagers’ Class) and their team leaders were busy setting up tents while the younger children and their parents were arranging tables and chairs. The purpose of this game was to allow everyone to understand the need to set up tents during a Tzu Chi free clinic overseas, so as to provide a comfortable waiting area and treatment space for local patients.
Lin Ji Feng (pictured below, second from the left) and his 7-year-old daughter, Lin Rui Ying, worked together with the rest to set up the tents within a very short time. The experience made him realise deeply the need for teamwork and a positive attitude while carrying out disaster relief.
Lin commented, “This is the first time I participated in an outdoor sports event. The activities allow parents and their kids to have close interactions with one another. I also get to chat and learn from other families as well.”
The other two games were designed along the themes of education and humanistic culture. In the game on Jing Si Aphorisms, the students and their parents had to go through hula hoops, throw a ball and search for the right words to form the Aphorisms. Besides learning about cooperation and team spirit, everyone also learned to appreciate the true meanings of Jing Si Aphorisms.
There was also a cheerleading team with a few cheeky young members. But they managed to follow the instructions of their team leader closely, and started waving and shaking the pom-poms in their hands after being signaled by the leader.
A group of parents and children came together in the field at the stadium to form a formation depicting “TC52”, which symbolised Tzu Chi Taiwan’s 52nd anniversary this year. Some had to lie on the ground while others folded their legs and bent their body, stretching out their arms to make the formation. They exhibited a strong team spirit, demonstrating a tacit understanding of each other.
Both the parents and children thoroughly enjoyed the sports and games, which were unlike any other sports competitions. The game scores were of least importance; what mattered most was everyone had fun.
12-year-old Tzu Shao, Lin Xin Ying, happily shared that she really liked such a sports event, where she got to set up a tent for the first time.
She added, “The task would not be too difficult if we work together with our teammates. These tents provide a space for the medical volunteers to treat the patients at an overseas free clinic.”
Mr Yu Ye Shun (pictured below, first from the left), who came for the sports event together with his family, also felt that this was a unique sports meet. He, too, learned how to set up tents and to appreciate the effort of every team member in the process, because it takes teamwork to set up a solid tent. Each and every game in this sports event had allowed him to let his hair down to have fun with the kids.
Mr Yu and his wife have joined Tzu Chi together with their daughter for a year. Both husband and wife opined that conventional schools often over-emphasize on academic performance and are unable to effectively and positively influence the character of their daughter. The young girl used to take her parents and the people around her for granted. But after joining Tzu Chi’s activities, she started to learn to be grateful to others and appreciate their efforts.
During break time, volunteers from the education team shared about Tzu Chi’s environmental conservation concept with the parents and students.
“What is the first ‘R’ of the 5R’s to Sustainability?” asked the emcee.
And the participants were already clueless on the first question. As blue recycle bins are placed in every HDB estate, many people have the misconception that by throwing recyclables, such as bottles and papers into these bins, they are already practising environmental protection. However, the first “R” is to “Refuse” consumption, followed by Reduce, Reuse, Repair and finally, Recycle.
Rubbish bins and recycling bins were placed in the stadium to allow everyone to discard their trash into the right bin, with the aim of achieving “zero waste”. After the games ended, volunteers even conducted a thorough cleaning of the stadium to make sure that no trash was left behind.
The event was brought to an end with an award ceremony, where meaningful small badges made of bottle caps were pinned on the shirts of the awardees.