Community is Power

Have you ever felt alone in the fighting of an infectious disease?
With the recent outbreak of the Covid-19, many will be wondering what an individual could do to help in this fight.

Local preschool, Agape Little Uni. has successfully activated the Singapore ‘kampong spirit’ to support her belief in building firm foundations, aimed at triumphing over the current adversity. We firmly advocate that every stakeholder has a key responsibility to play, as such, we empower our staff and families with a comprehensive set of knowledge and skills to overcome this obstacle.

Community engagement and knowledge-building empowers and builds social cohesion, which translates into benefits for the entire community through diversity. In his research, Professor Manuel Pastor emphasized that the community is power, where an organized, informed village of multiple groups can each play their role to support in the removal of hazards from within the community on the one hand, and on the other to transform communities into thriving places (Institute Of Medicine, 2015). Hence, Agape Little Uni. is conscientiously tapping on such existing community power to make a difference.

Our immediate response to the new advisories was to put in place definitive measures for all staff and parents to put on masks, the cancellation of school visits to public places, stringent health checks at our doorsteps, and the provision of current updates for parents to make informed choices for the protection of all the children under our care.

Simultaneously, we had to calm and reassure our anxious parents. We provided updates through the sharing of current affairs through our social media platforms for communication with parents, via the Facebook and Instagram. We allayed fears by creating awareness of the current situation pertaining to the Covid-19, such as, knowledge on the causes and symptoms of the virus. Working hand in hand with us, the Agape Little Uni. parents showed their full support in the schools by complying with all the protocols put in place to protect the children, such as, waiting patiently outside of the centres while stringent health checks were being completed for every child, and to minimize contact with the staff and children. Many took the responsibility of keeping their sick children home, or to fetch their sick children home immediately upon notification from the centre, as part of fulfilling social responsibility. We heartily applaud their responsible acts!

Additionally, we were pleasantly surprised by the response of the parents to our actions. Some of whom willingly and enthusiastically donated face masks (a rare commodity in limited supply currently) for our centres’ use. We are ever so grateful for their love and generosity! They are as follows: Ethan, Hannah, Dejun, Wei Ning, Sophia, Olivia, Yu’en, Zhi Yu, Tristan and Atticus Poh and their gracious parents.

Apart from the first crucial steps taken, Agape Little Uni. stands out exemplarily from other preschools locally by her immediate action to formulate a programme to educate the children on strategies to fight the Covid-19, via her inquiry-based learning curriculum. We pro-actively teach our children to protect themselves. Opportunities for such learning are created in the classrooms where our educators plan and execute inquiry tables to provoke children’s thinking and initiative in hygiene and safety practices, as portrayed in the activities photographed below:

 Activity: Hand Washing & Killing Germs!
The children below are learning about the importance of keeping themselves clean by washing their hands meticulously using the 7 proper steps for handwashing.

Activity: Handwashing
The children below learned the importance of washing hands. We placed glitter to represent germs on our hands, and got children to use soap to properly wash off all the “germs”. As a follow-up activity, we used glutinous rice flour, liquid soap and a bit of baby oil to make our own squishy soap.

Activity: Germs Spread Quickly

The following activity shows children that germs spread rapidly if we do not keep ourselves clean. We used watercolours and droppers to portray the speed at which germs can spread. They were able to see how the coloured liquid (representing germs) spread quickly when dropped across the white piece of paper. They learned the importance of keeping clean to prevent the spread of germs.

Activity: The Proper Way to Use Hand Sanitisers
The importance of using hand sanitisers to kill germs is also brought across with the help of a video show and hands-on activities, such as the above. The teachers conscientiously guided the children in this hands-on activity.

Activity: Experiment on the 3-ply Mask
The children explored how a 3 ply mask could block out germs from spreading to others. They made use of coloured dye to show how germs can be prevented from spreading by the use of a mask.In addition, they were also taught the proper way to put on a mask for effectiveness, which will help them understand how germs are transmitted through droplets and reach our lungs when we breathe.

Activity: Campaigning for Awareness
Current affairs were discussed and the preschool children used their writing and creativity to share how they could protect themselves and their loved ones through poster campaigns and sharing their calls for responsible living.

A discussion between teacher and the children on the Covid-19 resulted in a set of workable strategies on how to become socially responsible, in the light of global citizenship. They referred to current news articles on the Covid-19 as their discussion triggers, and suggested tactics to fight the virus globally. The children put their thoughts together and developed messages to campaign for everyone to be vigilant and socially responsible. The children below are holding posters developed by themselves to make known their appeal.

As early childhood educators, the onus lies with us to educate our young children in social responsibility pertaining to threats like the Covid-19, which will prepare them to respond appropriately with the community, to overcome other more sinister threats in the future. Citing Professor Pearce, J. (N.D) on how the community can change in his write-up on “Empowerment to transforming power”, we are empowering our young children to transform our society right from the current situation. What better place to begin than from the current global crisis that we are all experiencing! In small, but practical ways, these children could make an impact by bringing home their knowledge on hygiene practices, empathy and sympathy learned in school to make a difference in their families and their community.

References:
Institute of Medicine (2015). The Role & Potential Of Communities In Population Health Improvement: Workshop Summart. Washington, DC: The National Academics Press. Source

Professor Pearce, J. (N.D). Connected Communities. Power In Community: A Research & Social Action Scoping Review.
Source

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