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Through the SchoolARTS programme, students tap on their artistic talents to bring cheer to patients and create a livelier hospital environment for patients, staff and visitors.

From tiny acorns, mighty oaks can grow.

The SchoolARTS programme started in 2018, when 14 North Zone schools gathered to collaborate with SingHealth Community Hospitals (SCH) to spread cheer and lift spirits for patients through students’ art performances. Today, the number has almost doubled with a total of 34 schools island-wide on board, bringing patients a slew of vibrant art pieces and performances of different genres – from guzheng to drumming and dance. Besides partnering Sengkang Community Hospital (SKCH), the SchoolARTS programme has also expanded to benefit Outram Community Hospital (OCH) and Bright Vision Hospital (BVH).

Healing with Arts
As part of this programme, students engage in a variety of art-based activities, including lunch-time performances, busking for patients in wards and mural-painting. Students also create a range of artworks based on different themes like "healing nature" and "joyous colours".

"We appreciate the students’ efforts to engage our patients with their lively performances and activities. Their beautiful artworks are also placed around the hospitals to help uplift the spirit of our patients, caregivers and staff," said Ms Junaidah Hameed, Deputy Director of Communications, Patient & Community Relations at SCH. "We look forward to building on this meaningful partnership with schools."

Undaunted by COVID-19
Even though the onset of COVID-19 and the accompanying restrictions have put a halt to live performances and ward visits, students continued to support and sign up voluntarily for the SchoolARTS programme. For example, students from Eunoia Junior College (EJC)’s Chinese Orchestra recently recorded a digital concert for SCH patients, which was screened in the wards.

Students also continued to befriend patients though they were unable to meet in person. For instance, they played virtual games conducted via Zoom, facilitated by the SCH Community Relations team. Some students from Compassvale Secondary School (CVSS) also prepared goodie bags and folded origami for patients and healthcare workers, while others penned messages to show their appreciation for frontline staff’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

"I wanted to contribute towards making goodie bags as some patients may be too sick to leave their beds and may feel lonely," said CVSS student Pan Wen-Hui. Her classmate Khadijah Binte Mohd Fazni added: "We want the patients to smile more. I hope that when they receive the goodie bags, they will feel loved, happy, and know that they are not alone." 

To help the students know about the difference they are making to the lives of patients and their caregivers, the SCH Community Relations team hold regular dialogue sessions with participating schools using Zoom. Through these sessions, they also share about SCH and the work that goes on in a community hospital. Students also get to ask questions and discuss collaboration ideas, which help them connect more meaningfully with their contributions and give them a sense of ownership over their projects.

Win-Win for All
"This collaboration, which enable students to give back to the community through their art, is a great learning opportunity that develops deeper empathy and social awareness," said Mrs Sim Sook Fen, Art Teacher at Bowen Secondary School. 

Mdm Hanifa Nazrin, Head of Aesthetics Department at Rosyth School said: "Participating in SchoolARTS aligns with our school’s vision, where students learn with passion, then use their passion to serve the community. Projects under the programme can help to develop students holistically." The school had contributed Peranakan-style artworks in geometric designs.

Knowing that their artworks can brighten the day of patients, staff and visitors in the hospitals bring students a sense of satisfaction too.

"To know that I can have an impact on others through art motivates me to take on other projects in future to continue serving the community!" said Trena Lee, a Year 1 student from EJC’s Visual Arts Club, who used digital software to create wall mural designs for SCH.

Principal of Bowen Secondary School, Mr Liu Earnler, whose school is working on a wall painting installation for SKCH, said, "It’s truly a labour of love."

As of August 2021, more than 400 artworks have been contributed by the schools and more than 1,000 student volunteers have visited SKH Campus to participate in the live performances before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"SchoolARTS is a great platform that teachers can use to encourage students to make their art forms more meaningful and joyful – by sharing their skills with those who may need an uplifting hand."
Mrs Sim Sook Fen, Art Teacher, Bowen Secondary School

"Recording a digital concert for patients at Sengkang Community Hospital was a unique experience that broadened my perspectives on performing and audience engagement. It is often said that a small gesture goes a long way. Using one’s gift to benefit others is something everyone can do, and this is our way of contributing to the community."
Woo Xuan Kai, Year 2 student from Chinese Orchestra, Eunoia Junior College

"I feel good when I contribute my time to the community. Through this initiative, I get to learn more about what Service Learning is and get the opportunity to entertain the patients."
Muhammad Ammar Dhani Bin Abdul Latif, Secondary 3 student, Compassvale Secondary School