STAR Family Services brought their clients to the Jurong Bird Park for meaningful playtime.
Contributed By Jeannette Soh
Birds of a feather flock together, as they say. So did four families on July 2, at a family outing to Jurong Bird Park organized by STAR Family Services, an arm of the City Harvest Community Services Association that supports families in need by restoring and strengthening them.
“The purpose of the event was to promote family bonding by creating opportunities for families facing multiple stressors, to spend time and to play together,” explained Sheryl Lim, a social worker with CHCSA who organized the outing.
The beneficiaries started their day learning about the feeding habits of penguins by watching the entertaining feeding session and taking part in a quiz.
Throughout the day, parents and children enjoyed seeing all the different bird species in the Bird Park, from macaws and flamingos to pelicans and toucans.
Families and volunteers stopped at multiple points to take photos and group shots. It was the first time many of the children had seen such birds outside of a book, and parents quickly took the opportunity to teach them the spellings and pronunciation of these animals.
At noon, the families took a break for a nasi lemak lunch at the fountain plaza. Located next to a children’s playground, it was a perfect place for the group to relax and to play with their toddlers and infants, while the older children took part in a coloring competition. Many of them were very serious and enthusiastic about finishing their coloring entries, much to the amusement and pride of their parents.
After lunch, families gathered at Parrots Paradise to play games. The fastest family won a family-size game set of Monopoly Deal, and Angry Birds prizes were given out to the winners of the penguin quiz and the coloring competition. Polaroid photos of each family were also taken and given to the families as a souvenir of the day.
The activities ended at the Pelican Cove where volunteers bought fish for each family for the feeding session. Children donned gloves and crowded around the pool to throw fishes to the waiting pelicans, which flew up close to get their food. The families had the rest of the afternoon to themselves to explore the park together.
Elizabeth* said: “I was very happy during the outing because I learned how to enjoy time with my family. The most memorable event was when my family won the puzzle challenge because we won it by working together as a team.”
The organizers were also happy with the outcome of the outing. “There was a family that was experiencing strained relationships—they won the family challenge by working together. When they first arrived, the children had been very adamant about not taking photos with their mother, but they were happy to take a family picture together at the end of the day,” said one CHCSA case worker.
Phoebe Sung, a graphic designer who volunteered at the outing, said that “the event was very meaningful and it really created time for family bonding. There were families who seldom go out because of financial difficulties, and I think the children were very happy to have a day out.”
STAR Family Services’ mission to strengthen families was met in this outing. Parents and children were able to spend time together and learn how to have fun as a family. At the same time, case workers and volunteers were able to identify stressors and potential areas for families to work on in order to better improve family relationships. This event gave parents an opportunity to understand and create change in their own families.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the client.