Posts tagged: Anchorvale

Learning To Swim in Singapore – Choose Your Instructor Carefully

By , December 18, 2012 12:12 am

It’s time for a brief update on what the kids have been up to over the school holidays. Obviously, I’m still stuck in the office every day, so I’m not getting to take part in many of the activities unless they happen to fall on a weekend.

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In terms of the holiday programs and camps, all the fun starts for Casey next year as he begins his Kinderland journey and attends kindergarten with his ‘ge ge’ (big brother) – it’s not much fun for Daddy’s wallet though… 🙁 – this year, Jaime has attended both a ‘Chinese News Presenter’ course at Mediacorp and this week he’s making an ‘Angry Bird’ robot.

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The one key thing that I wanted to touch on, is the progress that Jaime is making in his swimming classes. Now, here’s the wrap on sports classes in Singapore… and for parents just starting out on this journey, please note this down very well.

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There are literally dozens (or perhaps even hundreds) of swimming schools in Singapore. Before signing our son up many months ago, we wanted to be sure that he would have an instructor that would help him get the most out of the once-a-week lessons, as well as someone who was kind and understanding, but a little firm at the same time.

We made the right decision to enroll him in the “Bubbles ‘N Splashes” swim school. He attends every Friday afternoon and over time, we have seen a remarked improvement in his ability and just as important, his confidence.
Tomorrow, he will attempt his first ever formal (Level 1) swimming test.

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Given that I am always at work when classes are going on, I’d not had the opportunity to witness first-hand the format or teaching style of his swimming instructor.

However, on Sunday, Jaime attended an ‘extra’ session, as he prepares for his first ‘test’. We took both the boys down to the Anchorvale swimming pool at the AV Community Club (where I sit on the management committee) for the morning, and our decision to go with “Bubbles ‘N Splashes’ was reaffirmed… not just by watching the way the teacher interacted with the kids and offered special attention where needed, it was also by watching teachers from other swimming schools who were sharing the same pool.

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Now, I understand that working with young kids can be testing on any grown-up… but to hear the way that some of these other swimming teachers spoke to the children and constantly scolded them and yelled at them (for example, something as simple as sitting on the side of the pool while waiting, when they had not been instructed to sit). I was left speechless – this is no way to get kids to learn or to show respect. If teaching young kids makes a person frustrated and angry and leaves no option but to yell, scream and scold, I strongly suggest that it’s time for that person to search for another profession.

Not only is it this behaviour not conducive to a positive and healthy learning environment, it can be demoralizing for the kids… and the parents are paying hard-earned cash for this privilege.

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My message is – before you sign up, do a little research online in local forums and get feedback from other parents… perhaps go and watch the teacher in action (covertly) and see if they behave in a way which you think will benefit your child.

Once again – “Bubbles ‘N Splashes” is the school for us. Firm but fair, caring and understanding, and the results truly speak for themselves… BRAVO!!

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Speaking of confidence – Casey has no problems when it comes to the water. In fact, he is so overly confident, that he will just jump directly into the deep end of the pool for me to catch him (even when I’m not looking or ready for it). I’m kind of guessing it’s the Queenslander in his genes, but he absolutely loves swimming and playing in the pool – he has been talking about ‘jumping in the water’ for the last few days… and not failing to mention it at least ten times every hour.

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Finally, on another topic, the boys have not been immune to the ‘Psy’ phenomenon and the YouTube smash hit, “Gangnam Style”. Now it seems that as well as watching the video dozens of times and knowing the dance moves, the marketing engine behind it all have started producing merchandise… and what demographic do you think the campaign is focused on? Yep, you got it – young kids!!
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I’ve been told so many times before by friends and colleagues, that running, jumping and dancing is a great way to make sure that their kids are worn out by the end of the day and they will want to sleep peacefully and earlier after a session of physical activity. I hereby pronounce that Casey and Jaime are obviously different from the norm / exception to the rule… in the video below, it’s already 11:30pm at night, they are “full of beans” and they show no sign of wearing down, even pleading for more at such a late hour… BUT, IT IS VERY CUTE THOUGH!! “Oppa Zheng Jia Style”…

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[BROWSE MORE SWIMMING PICTURES HERE]

National Day Dinner – Living The Local Dream

By , August 28, 2012 9:51 pm

Saturday, 25th August, saw me heading on down to the hard-court opposite the Anchorvale Community Club for the 2012 National Day Dinner.

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Surprisingly, after a relatively lengthy association with the Grassroots community in Sengkang West, this was the first time I had attended this extremely enjoyable and inclusive event. Let me tell you, I was not to be disappointed. All kudos to Mickey and the organizing committee for a fun-filled evening that was just bursting with national pride and excitement for all of the residents that attended.

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Along with the singing of Majulah Singapura and the recitation of the pledge, some highlights of the evening included presentation of awards to long-service committed community volunteers, symphony and choir performances, a Wushu display, performances by ITE College Central students and a very interesting and quite amusing spot by artiste, Donna Daniels.

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We were also entertained by a very talented magician, who literally left the audience with mouths agape… but the true spectacle of the whole night was an impromptu singing performance by the Guest of Honour, Dr Lam Pin Min – he actually has a very good voice!! 🙂

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A special mention should go out to the master of ceremonies, Derrick! He is just an absolute natural in this role.

Oh – did I mention the food… *mouth waters* – the menu was completely tantalizing to the taste buds.

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The CCMC members were seated at Table number 3, right down the front and nearest to all the ‘action’. One may well have thought from observing, that there was a spare seat at our table, but in fact we had reserved a spot for our very dear friend and recently departed, Mark Toh – I firmly believe that he was right there with us in spirit. Mark was a tireless and selfless volunteer to anybody who needed assistance, and he was a great mate whose deeds will forever be etched in my (and hundreds of others’) memory.

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Thanks again to the organizers, the event company, the performers and all of the many volunteers that gave up their time to ensure that the National Day Dinner was a 100% success!!

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I am so proud of my community!

Photo Credits for this article:

* Raymond Lee
* Sourajit Bhowmick
* Poor Quality Ones: My iPhone

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Source: Aussie Pete

How Foreigners Can Truly Integrate In Singapore Instead Of Just Mixing

By , December 14, 2011 1:49 am

Source: Aussie Pete

Regardless of which country you come from or where you live, one of the most satisfying ways of achieving self-fulfillment and personal growth and at the same time forging very tight and often unbreakable bonds with your neighbours and fellow local residents is through community volunteer work.

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In my case, as a foreigner settling into Singapore, it has also been a means to achieving a very deep level of integration in my heartland community. Not only have my local relationships developed from ones of ‘familiarity’ into those of ‘strong friendships’, as a Caucasian married to a beautiful Chinese wife with two absolutely adorable Eurasian children, I feel that although we may be considered a ‘minority’ (racially) in our local estate, we feel completely accepted by those around us. There is never any animosity and I have learned that the colour of my skin or country of heritage is of absolutely no consequence in my day to day interactions.

Sure, when we first moved to Singapore all those years ago, living in a condo in Woodlands, we were both scared and intimidated… we were not sure at all how we should go about integrating, earning and giving respect and gaining acceptance. For the first couple of years, we were certainly not doing a great job of it at all. In fact, we even took people staring as a sign of dislike toward us – when in reality, what we considered may be a ‘coolness’ from local Singaporeans at the time, was probably more due to inquisitiveness and curiosity.

Let me tell you for a fact… open your heart and lives with no pretense and you will surely find (as we have) that Singapore is one of the most warm and kindest societies on this planet.

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palogoAs a part of my collaboration with notatourist.sg, I wanted to reach out to fellow foreigners looking for ways to integrate and become accepted as part of their local community, by offering some brief guidance and key links on how they can offer their services through Grassroots volunteer work. (Please note, the following information is far from exhaustive, and I strongly encourage you to have a surf around the People’s Association website – link attached at the bottom of this article).

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As my role as a Grassroots Leader in Sengkang West, the past year has seen a very exciting range of activities and the number of new personal and family friendships are too many to count…. from working with Residents’ Committees on block parties, divisional activities and events (I even had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Lee at our Sengkang West Wellness Day) to the huge Halloween party we held at the CC in late October, for which I was co-chairman of the organizing committee. It’s been a huge year!!

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Specifically, although my main role is as a member of the Anchorvale CCMC (Community Club Management Committee), I often also work closely with my local Residents’ Committee on things even ‘closer to home’… in fact, I even patrol our estate with the local constabulary as part of the COP (citizens on patrol) – in collaboration with the police force, it is known as the ‘Neighbourhood Watch Zone’ program.

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For more information on what the CCMC does, click here. In summary, Community Club Management Committees (CCMCs) “help build, manage and maintain all our Community Clubs (CCs). CCs are the common meeting ground for residents from all walks of life by providing numerous recreational activities and learning opportunities. CCs also connect residents and the Government by providing relevant information and gathering feedback on national concerns and policies. Each CC serves about 15,000 households or an average of 50,000 people”.

Within our CCMC, are five executive committees – Senior Citizens’ EC, Women’s EC, Youth EC, Malay Activity EC, Indian Activity EC. Through this network, we “promote racial harmony and social cohesion through the various cultural, educational, recreational, sporting, social and other community-based activities organised specially for residents.”

The full list of organizations and committees available for volunteering can be found on the PA website, under the Grassroots Organization section.

To sign-up as a volunteer, simply go here and register your details and interests.

One of the most common questions I get asked on signing up as a volunteer, is “But I don’t live in a HDB estate, how can I get involved?”… Well fret not, dear friends – residents of private housing estates can still play their part by joining a Neighbourhood Committee.

Still in doubt or need extra advice, please feel free to reach out to me directly via email or comment.

I found the following ‘structure’ chart sometime ago on another blog which illustrates nicely, the various committees and how we come together:

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People’s Association Main Website – Click Here

Community Bonding in the Heartlands

By , November 2, 2011 10:27 pm

Just a very quick article to applaud the hard work of a group of very focussed and talented young Singapore Polytechnic students. Also to thank all the rest of the volunteers – grassroots people (CCMC, RC and Sub-Committees) and all of the other student helpers.

The atmosphere was electric

The atmosphere was electric

The ‘2011 Halloween Spooktacular’ at the Anchorvale Community Club at Sengkang West took place on Saturday night (29th October) and featured the first ever ‘Heartlands Halloween Haunted House’.

To say the event was a resounding success would actually be an understatement! Just a few short weeks ago, we were getting worried that we had only sold just over 300 tickets for the night. Fast forward to Saturday afternoon and we had to put a freeze on ticket sales (around 1,070 sold) or we would have risked not having enough goodie bags.

An early arrival in costume

An early arrival in costume

The event was due to start at 7:30pm, but by 6:30pm – while it was still daylight – the first of the residents began showing up. This enthusiasm and excitement continued into the evening. With other walk-ins, the number of attendees was well in excess of what we ever could have imagined. By 8:00pm, the plaza area was completely full of people and the queue to get into the haunted house at the multi-purpose hall was already stretching as far as the eye could see.

Jack-O-Lantern Decoration competition

Jack-O-Lantern Decoration competition

If attendance alone was not enough, the atmosphere was just electric. I’m guessing almost half of the residents came in costume, some of which must have taken hours (if not days) to prepare… and everywhere you looked, there were people bonding, laughing and having a general ‘blast’ of a time.

Winner of the best dressed competition

Winner of the best dressed competition

The demographic of the crowd was also very interesting – everyone from the young families – parents and children, senior citizens and of course, the young adults… teenagers and early 20’s. It really was a complete cross-section of our close-knit community in Sengkang West… In my Grassroots leadership role, I couldn’t help feeling quite proud and excited as one of the key organizers of perhaps the most successful and fun event ever in our constituency!

Absolutely – this was Community bonding at it’s best!

Congratulations to everyone involved…

Click here to see hundreds of pictures from the event

The picture below, is my family with the Guest of Honour, Dr Lam Pin Min (yes, I’m the one in the mask – quite an improvement to my everyday look, right?):

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A Sea of People

A Sea of People

Putting on a brave face in front of a very frightening Snow White in the Haunted House

Putting on a brave face in front of a very frightening Snow White in the Haunted House

Source: Aussie Pete

A Singapore First? – Heartlands Halloween Haunted House!

By , September 23, 2011 1:50 am

Not afraid to get your ‘scare’ on this Halloween? Don’t know where to go? – Have I got a scoop for you!!!

‘Trick or Treat’ in Sengkang West

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Well, it’s actually not all that scary really, and in fact the event is being completely geared up as ‘family friendly’. That is, we’re catering to the young and old alike. There’s going to be heaps of family fun and bonding activities for all ages at the Sengkang West ‘Halloween Spooktacular’ at the Anchorvale Community Club this October.

In what we believe will be the first ever ‘Heartlands Halloween Haunted House’, you’ll be able to see all of your favourite fairytale characters like you’ve never seen them before, in the ‘Happy Never After’ twisted tales in the multi-purpose hall.

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If this isn’t your cup of tea or you would rather keep the kids away from anything bordering on a little frightening, there will be a huge number of activities happening in the plaza area. From the best dressed competition, the Jack-O-Lantern designing competition, to any of the on-stage performances and off-stage fringe events and games, this is the event of the year that can absolutely not be missed.

Goodie bags, mummy-wrapping, face-painting, shrink art, cheer-leading performances… just to name a few. Take a trip to the heartlands and see why residents and families are proud to call Sengkang West ‘our home’.

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Event Page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sengkangwesthalloween

EVENT DETAILS:

Halloween Spooktacular @ Sengkang West

Where: Anchorvale Community Club
Date: Saturday, 29th October, 2011
When: 7:30pm to 10:00pm
Tickets: Available From Anchorvale CC @ $2 / pax

The Day I Met The Prime Minister of Singapore!

By , April 3, 2011 11:11 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

Any of my colleagues or people that know me (in real life, or in the social media space), are probably tired of me reminding them that today was the day that the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, was to pay a visit to our small but very close-knit community in Sengkang West.

The day I met the PM - Jaime, Aussie Pete, PM Lee and Dr Lam Pin Min

The day I met the PM - Jaime, Aussie Pete, PM Lee and Dr Lam Pin Min

After many weeks of planning and the tireless efforts of a small group of people from the Residents Committee (RC, Zones E & F) and the CCMC (Anchorvale Community Centre Management Committee), the ‘Wellness Day’ event was a ripping success!

Following on from our final organizing meeting yesterday morning, we all met at Blk 437 for a final briefing and breakfast this morning at 8:00am, before heading over to Fernvale Point to put the finishing touches on the location and to ensure all of the logistics were taken care of.

PM Lee and our local MP, Dr Lam

PM Lee and our local MP, Dr Lam


For anyone visiting our community for the first time, it would be quite understandable if you were to assume that this usually laid-back pocket of the heartlands had become the fashionable place to hang-out on a Sunday morning. With literally thousands of people out to enjoy the day and a shared excited anticipation at the upcoming treat of PM Lee’s attendance, the entire area was literally ‘abuzz’!

And nobody was disappointed!! The agenda and event went off like clock-work. I could start naming people responsible for the meticulous planning, but I fear if I did, I may miss one or more people in doing so. These wonderful givers to the community know who you are, but I do think a special shout-out needs to be given to Peter (not me) and Mickey.

Although PM Lee arrived a little earlier than planned, it was no concern or isssue for everyone involved. Upon being greeted by Grassroots leaders, the PM, accompanied with the very popular Dr Lam Pin Min were treated with a fabulous welcome and performance from around 325 children of the various local PCF (PAP Community Foundation) kindergartens.

325 Students from PCF Kindergartens performed for the PM

325 Students from PCF Kindergartens performed for the PM

Shortly thereafter, Mr Lee met with many of the residents, many of whom seized the opportunity for a photograph with the charismatic leader – ‘yours truly included’ – which was no simple task let me tell you, given that my ‘official role’ for the day was that of photographer for the CCMC and RC’s… I managed to off-load the camera to my wife in a well-rehearsed play, swooped up my son, Jaime, in my arms, and managed to get to actually not just meet with the PM, but also had a very meaningful conversation with him. Dr Lam introduced us, and described my involvement in the Sengkang West Grassroots and CCMC. Then PM Lee proceeded to display genuine interest in my time here in Singapore… and my son, although overwhelmed at the time, has not stopped speaking about how we met the Prime Minister – I think he’s got some serious ‘showing off’ and boasting ahead of him tomorrow at kindergarten (he asked me to print off a photo for his ‘show and tell’ already) :p

A very down to earth and charismatic man - Lee Hsien Loong

A very down to earth and charismatic man - Lee Hsien Loong

Welcome and pleased to meet you!

Welcome and pleased to meet you!

Following on from a walkthrough around the various establishments within Fernvale Point and meeting the shopkeepers and vendors, we had a simple but very delightful snack at Koufu – and managed to cool off a bit in the process… it was a very warm and humid morning.

Soon after, it was time to say farewell to PM Lee, and although I suspect that the organizing teams took a collective sigh of relief, it was definitely accompanied by a real sense of accomplishment… and very well deserved.

This event, my first as a member of the organizing committee of any community event in Sengkang West, was a roaring success – in our eyes, as well as that of the community. The smiles and genuine admiration and happiness shown by our local people will be etched in my memory – this is why I love getting involved in community activities and why I have decided to take an active role in our local community – our HOME – SENGKANG WEST!

We All Love Sengkang West

We All Love Sengkang West

To see the galleries of pictures I took on the day, just click the following links – with great effort, I managed to somehow reduce the number of pictures to less than 400 (so I could fit in two albums on Facebook):

Click for Wellness Day – Gallery 1

Click for Wellness Day – Gallery 2

Wellness Day at Fernvale Point – 3rd April, 2011 – a day to remember! The Day I Met The Prime Minister of Singapore.

Guest of Honour - Lee Hsien Loong

Guest of Honour - Lee Hsien Loong

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