Parent bloggers, companies and professionals set aside a Sunday morning to bring happiness to children with cancer.
Contributed By Delvina Su
While most of us were busy with face paint and Halloween costumes on Oct. 31, it was truly a Happee Day for 200 children and volunteers. Happee Day was a not-for-profit carnival specially organized for 50 young children from the Children’s Cancer Foundation and their families. According to CCF, in 2009 alone, 162 children have been diagnosed with childhood cancer.
What might seem like an ordinary day of fun in the sun for healthy children was a precious and rare opportunity for the children who have spent their lives battling cancer. Due to a weaker immune system, they usually refrain from visiting crowded places, shuttling only between home, school and hospital visits. The medical treatment they receive (usually lasting between six months to two years) often takes a toll on their physical body, preventing them from having regular outdoor play. This, in turn, limits the number of friends and play dates they can have.
Daphne Ling, 28, a parent blogger and mother of two toddlers (aged 15 months and two and a half) felt so strongly for these young fighters that she aimed to do something for them. So she decided to organize a carnival just for these children to have a fun day and a chance to mingle with other children. Alone, Ling knew that she probably could not do much but together with 45 other parent bloggers spreading the word through their sites, the Happee Day carnival saw an overwhelming response. With her team of volunteers, Ling treated the children to a full morning of games, food, fun-filled activities and entertaining performances.
The green lawn at Hort Park (venue sponsored by National Parks) bustled with activities and entertaining performances that kept the young ones busy. The children hopped from station to station, each offering kid-focused activities. One such station offered face-painting by Artbody, while another had the kids patiently waiting for their creatively twisted balloon sculptures by Calvin the Mage. Another booth offered portraits by caricaturist Kamal and his wife, Ruoshi (from Cartoon.sg). Bouncy castles and gaming consoles equipped with Nintendo Wii also introduced the children to a brand new world of play and fun.
It was a dream come true for many of the children who tore down the green grass chasing their superheroes—Batman and Iron Man; yet others got to mingle with their favorite cartoon characters—Winnie the Pooh and The Incredible Hulk. Another highlight for that day was the Iron Man dance item put up by performing arts school, O School. The grand finale saw Jimmy the Juggler juggling machetes that left the children gasping in awe.
The carnival would not have been complete without the children’s favorite food such as ice cream, brownies and cakes. Everyone present was treated to a mouth-watering spread of Peranakan dishes by Chilli Api Catering, leaving many taste buds happy and satisfied.
|CN PHOTO: Tan Yun You
Happee Day ended with the beneficiaries from CCF going home with a sponsored activity kit bag packed to the brim with fun activities and games to keep them occupied at home.
Esther Wong, fundraising and sponsorship officer from CCF, shared from her experience that children with cancer do not usually get to do much, aside from going to school and going for their medical treatment. Nevertheless, she stressed, they want to be regarded as normal children and be able to have fun too. “Children with cancer who attend such events are usually in recovery state and events like this help them to communicate with others and integrate them back to society. It is also good for family bonding,” she said, adding that “the children and their family enjoyed the Happee Day carnival very much!”
What made that Sunday even more special and heartwarming was how individuals and companies came together to make the event happen, creating a special and memorable day for the cancer-stricken children. From the venue to the logistics; from the food to the activity booths; all were sponsored, as were the activity kit bags and performances.
For Bernard Loh, the volunteer emcee for the day, it was a privilege to have the opportunity to cheer and encourage these children. “Happee Day was fantastic! I had so much fun helping out and covering all the music and hosting. From the music console, I saw many happy faces and the kids totally enjoying themselves. That’s priceless!” he said.
Those who are interested in making a donation to support these children may do so at the Children’s Cancer Foundation website at www.ccf.org.sg.