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Meet the inspiring young recipients of the HomeTeamNS Children’s Education Awards 2023

Aid your little ones’ holistic development through these engaging camps themed around innovation, art, science, mental wellness, and nature.

This year’s award recipients boast varied passions, from uplifting the community to tinkering with technology.

BY ALYWIN CHEW

When Charles Tan applied for the HomeTeamNS Children’s Education Awards (CEA) 2023 on behalf of his daughter Hazel several months ago, his objective was simple — to show her that hard work can pay off.

In November this year, Hazel was among 65 student recipients of the HomeTeamNS CEA bursary, which disbursed a total of $50,000 in cash prizes and vouchers to defray their education expenses. Since its inception in 2004, the initiative has benefitted close to 2,700 children of HomeTeamNS members — and continues to power the ambitions of this year’s bright young sparks.

PAYING IT FORWARD

HomeTeamNS Children's Education Awards Recipient Hazel Tan (middle) with her family and HomeTeamNS President Mr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

A well-rounded student with a passion for music, Hazel has been playing the guzheng since she was in primary school. She also participated in public performances as a member of her secondary school’s choir. One of the highlights of her time with the group was performing for elderly patients with whom she interacted at Bright Vision Community Hospital.

“I realised that the seniors just needed someone to chat with. I am very grateful for the opportunity to provide them with companionship,” muses Hazel, who hopes to continue making a positive impact in the community. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in either Pharmacy or Pharmaceutical Science at the National University of Singapore. “As a pharmacist, I can help patients by providing them with the care and medications they need to feel better,” she says.

The accomplished young woman, who scored exceptionally well in her GCE O-Level examinations and is currently studying Pharmaceutical Science in Nanyang Polytechnic, attributes her academic success to effective time management, hard work, and her parents’ guidance. “My parents have taught me the importance of education and helped me to set achievable goals. This has shaped my positive mindset towards learning,” she says.

When asked about his parenting philosophy, Mr Tan says he always encourages his daughter to do her best and to never be afraid of failure. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone learns through failure. This is how we get better at what we do,” he asserts.

PURSUING VARIED PASSIONS

From left: Proud father Mr Abdul Halim Bin Dahlan; President of HomeTeamNS Mr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim; HomeTeamNS Children's Education Awards 2023 recipient Muhammad Fatris Ihsan Bin Muhamad Hafizi.

Another parent who understands the importance of positive reinforcement is Mr Abdul Halim Bin Dahlan, who helped his elder son Muhammad Fatris Ihsan Bin Muhamad Hafizi apply for the CEA. Attaining the award has spurred the 20-year-old to excel in his studies. Fatris, who studied Precision Engineering at the Institute of Technical Education, was named in the Director’s List for meritorious academic performance.

“Here’s my advice to juniors: Be sure to study hard, but also find that balance between schoolwork and life. It also helps to pair up with a classmate and support one another in your studies,” says Fatris, who enjoys working with tools and machines. “I would like to become an engineer who designs machine parts. I’m also considering becoming a firefighter at SCDF, where I’d be part of the Home Team just like my father, who is a former police officer,” he shares.

The Koo family with President of HomeTeamNS Mr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

Such role models are also present in the Koo family, whose three daughters attained this year’s CEA thanks to their good grades and extracurricular achievements. 13- and 12-year-old sisters Valerie and Janice demonstrated their innovative bent at their school’s Social Innovator Star Award in 2022, where Janice conceptualised an accessory that enables habits for healthy smartphone usage.

“Almost everyone has a smartphone today, and many end up getting myopia because they hold the phones too close to their faces,” says the aspiring author, who is an avid reader. “This is why I designed a product with a rod that pushes the face away when it gets too close to the phone.”

She and her sisters, including 11-year-old Amanda, credit their mother, Cheryl Yeo, for their successes. “My mum is the biggest motivator in my academic journey. In fact, I view her as a rival — I want to perform better than she did in the past!” quips Valerie, who scored a single digit in her PSLE.

The future glimmers bright for all recipients of the HomeTeamNS CEA 2023. Fatris perfectly sums up their sense of optimism: “I truly believe that doing what you love, no matter what, will bring you places.”

Interested in serving beyond your obligations? Consider the Volunteer Extension Scheme, which allows PNSMen who have completed their NS liability to continue serving beyond their statutory age. PNSMen (With NS liability) who have passed their statutory age of 40 years (Junior Officers) & 50 years (Senior Officers) may apply.

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