Delane Lim wants kids in Singapore to be kind. And he wants them to show and spread kindness with just a dollar coin.
With $10,000 of his money, the 33-year-old entrepreneur co-founded the My Dollar Story initiative. And after the kids perform their compassionate acts with a dollar, they can recount their stories on the initiative’s Facebook page.
Before that, interested participants can drop a message on the Facebook page with their name, age, address and intended action with the dollar. A $1 coin will then be mailed to each participant, along with a card.
Already, the page has some heartwarming anecdotes to underscore the initiative’s aim to show that kindness is worth far more than the nominal $1 value on the coin.
For instance, 14-year-old Alexis Chong wrote that he used the dollar to buy tissue papers from an elderly man selling them for a living. Another participant, 12-year-old Koh Hui, wrote, “I was given a dollar, so I decided to contribute another dollar of mine and donate to SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) because I love dogs.”
Spreading kindness to adults
While the initiative does not exclude adults, it is mainly targeted at younger participants.
“We always hear that kids mirror what their parents do. But the other way is also true – that kids nowadays exert a subtle but strong influence on their parents’ actions,” Lim told Yahoo News Singapore in an interview at Crowd PR agency’s office in Ubi on Friday (5 April).
“So when kids perform kind deeds and tell their parents of their acts of kindness, they are in effect triggering their parents to follow their actions too.”
The initiative was inspired by a philanthropic movement called “Project $1”, which Lim first came to know in 2009 when he helped to organise the first International Youth Leaders’ Summit in Singapore.
The movement’s message of kindness and “paying it forward” hit home only in 2018, when Lim came across a documentary about poverty while recuperating from a spine surgery.
He said, “It made me think about how we Singaporeans can help those suffering in poverty, but I also realised that, first of all, Singaporeans need to understand that there is value in even a dollar, because a dollar can mean a big deal for those in poverty.”
On Thursday, Lim launched My Dollar Story on Facebook through his youth development company FutuReady Asia – of which he is the co-founder – in partnership with the Crowd PR agency.
Creative ways to use dollar for kindness
During the campaign’s soft launch at Serangoon Garden Secondary School in March, Lim met the students there and was impressed by their ideas for showing kind acts to others.
Their ideas showed that kids have a “wealth of generosity” to tap into. “Some of them divided the dollar further by sharing sweets or lollipops with their friends. Some of them understand the strength in numbers, and so they reached out to their friends to combine their dollar coins to buy a box of chocolates, which they gave to cleaning ladies at Changi Airport,” he said.
The initiative has already garnered support from the community. Serangoon Gardens Secondary School principal Valerie Goh said, “Most times, we thought the act of caring might be for someone else, but with this one dollar, it means it can start from the students. They learnt that any kind act can start from something small, as long as you are willing. It is a refreshing and empowering moment for them.”
Charity patron and Member of Parliament for MacPherson, Tin Pei Ling, added, ““I support the My Dollar Story movement because it is good to start cultivating kindness from young. This movement also shows that regardless of our backgrounds, everyone is capable of being kind.”
Lim hopes to promote the initiative to more schools, PAP Community Foundation kindergartens, as well as via the school programmes offered by his company. He aims to garner about 200 stories of kindness on the campaign’s Facebook page by June.
“Singapore has a culture of criticism. We voice out only when things go bad. But when things go right, we seldom highlight them,” he said.
“I think the least we can do to reciprocate the kind acts by young Singaporeans is to provide a platform to let the public be aware of their kindness.”
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