[Featured Photo: Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association, Minister Chan Chun Sing presented Kenneth Tan, Director of the Office of Student Life, SMU with Community Partnership Excellence Award at the PA Community Spirit Awards 2017]

The Singapore Management University (SMU) was one of the corporate and community partners that received the People’s Association (PA) Community Spirit (PACS) Awards 2017 at the Awards Presentation Ceremony on 5 July 2017. For the school’s outstanding community service and contributions towards the community, SMU received the Community Partnership Excellence Award.

All recipients’ contributions were assessed in five broad areas: (a) Volunteerism Philosophy and Commitment; (b) Community Bonding and Outreach; (c) Sharing and Caring for the Community; (d) Impact and Multiplier Effect on the Community; and (e) Quality of Partnership.

Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC) recommended SMU for this award as it affirms SMU's commitment to extend and deepen the university’s focus on community service by contributing and facilitating cultural and civic capital for the city residents.

“My heartiest congratulations to Professor Arnoud De Meyer and his SMU team, for winning the People’s Association Community Spirit (PACS) Awards 2017 – Community Partnership Excellence Award. SMU has been a great blessing to our community in Central Singapore. The passion, commitment and contribution of the SMU staff and student body who served with us had been inspiring and well-received. I look forward to growing this great partnership from strength to strength.”  – Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District

The award was merited by a range of initiatives, including several collaborations with the CDC. 

One example is the annual SMU Challenge, a signature and longest running community service initiative organised by SMU students. Since its inception in 2008, SMU Challenge has been contributing to the local community in a meaningful and sustainable manner. At the very heart of SMU Challenge is an annual walkathon, where SMU volunteers carry backpacks of food and necessities, and journey from SMU to the doorsteps of the less fortunate elderly to hand deliver them. Having consistently involved the entire SMU community in giving back to our society, over 2,000 faculty, staff, alumni and students have participated in this project by walking more than 14,000km to deliver a total of 7,000kg of necessities to the less fortunate elderly. To date, SMU Challenge has raised $267,000 for their beneficiaries. 

Another example is the CDC’s Free Kicks programme, where avid soccer players from the SMU Soccer Club offer free weekly football coaching clinics to youths from low-income families. This initiative hopes to reach out to these youths through sports, while instilling values such as teamwork, self-confidence, self-discipline and sportsmanship. This culminates in a Free Kicks Challenge, where teams go head to head with each other in a mini tournament.

Yet another meaningful collaboration is that where members of the SMU Chinese Orchestra are part of the Purple Symphony– Singapore’s first all-inclusive orchestra. Founded in 2015 with 83 pioneer members across all ages and backgrounds, the music ensemble celebrates inclusion and diversity by bringing together musicians with and without special needs. Its members play a range of Asian and Western instruments from five key musical sections: Strings (Plucked), Strings (Bow), Wind, Percussion and Choir. Members of the SMU Chinese Orchestra attend weekly practice sessions and have mentored and played with special needs musicians. 

In addition, the SMU Eurhythmix (hip-hop dance) club has mentored, through dance, at-risk youth from Teck Ghee Youth Centre. Called Youth-rhythmix, this community outreach initiative by student volunteers from the Club took place over 20 sessions from December 2016 to February 2017. Apart from learning and practising dance moves, the mentors facilitated goal setting activities and reflection sessions to inspire youths to have a stronger sense of self and community through dance and provide a safe outlet for self-expression and building of self-confidence. This culminated in the club’s biennial dance production TIMELESS that was presented at the Capitol Theatre in February 2017.

Said Mr Kenneth Tan, Director of the Office of Student Life at SMU who oversees all students’ initiatives and clubs, "I want to thank the People's Association for acknowledging SMU as a community partner as this realises SMU's vision to be integrated with the city community in Singapore. I believe that even beyond this award, the SMU staff and student community will continue to partner with Central Singapore Community Development Council to be relevant and serve the needs of the city community." 

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