With his winsome smile and winning ways, nine-year-old Sufizul clearly stood out from the crowd. He was eager to learn and participated enthusiastically. When it came time for the quizzes, his single, blue-gloved hand was the one most often seen shooting up into the air.
Asked why he wore only one glove, Sufi, as he likes to be called, quipped, “I got this pair of gloves from my previous P.E.E.K. visit to JCube when we went ice-skating. I like it very much and I’m wearing just one now to be like Michael Jackson.”
Sufi was one of 40 children beneficiaries of CapitaLand’s philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), who had gone to the newly refurbished Bugis+ for a P.E.E.K. (Providing Educational Exposure for Kids) event. These children hail from FaithActs, The Salvation Army Gracehaven, and CapitaLand's own 10-year mentorship programme CapitaKids Programme. 10 children of CapitaLand staff also joined in the fun.
P.E.E.K. is a programme that aims to give children from underprivileged homes a chance to go behind-the-scenes of iconic CapitaLand properties and Singapore landmarks to learn about their green operations and interesting features. 40 CapitaLand staff volunteers were on hand to host the children at this 13 th P.E.E.K. tour since this bi-annual event kickstarted in 2007.
The hot topic of the day was a fire safety talk. Held just outside the mall, the children got a chance to come close to a real fire, albeit from a safe distance.
The children were taught what to do in a fire: to leave a burning building, crawl to the nearest exit in a smoke-filled room or go to a safe room with windows facing the road if an exit cannot be found. But the part that wowed the children the most was the lesson on how to use a fire extinguisher.
13-year-old Mohammed readily shouted out the steps when asked, “PASS – pull, aim, squeeze and sweep!”
Human Resource Manager, The Ascott Limited, Hirman Abdullah, has volunteered with CapitaLand on several occasions. But this was the first time he offered to be a presenter to man one of the four stations the children visited during the tour.
“I wanted to be able to present to the children something they are familiar with and give them information they had not known before. Who hasn’t ridden on an escalator, right? But what we tell them about the technology is new,” said Abdullah.
Judging from their responses, it was evident that the motion sensor on the escalator was a hit with the children. They got to see how it slowed the escalator down when it cannot sense anyone using it and picked up speed once people stepped onto the escalator.
“I learnt not to stand outside of the yellow box on the step of the escalator so my shoes will not be caught in the mechanism,” said 10-year-old Alicia Thiam, one of the CapitaKids.
Alicia was with her mentor, Leasing Executive, CapitaMalls Asia, Adelia Koh.
“She was very shy with me at first,” confessed Koh. “But when she warms up, she can be quite talkative. She likes to roller-blade. So the next time we meet, we are going to roller-blade in the park.”
A quick trip to the bathroom got all the children intrigued as they learnt about the sensors in the taps that turned the water on and off to avoid wastage.
“I learnt what to do with the excess water in my cup after I have brushed my teeth,” said Sufi as he emptied his cup into a potted plant to demonstrate his point.
Assistant Vice President, Business System, CapitaLand, Elaine Lee who was there with her nine-year-old daughter, Kelly, was impressed by the children’s energy.
“I brought my girl because it is a rare opportunity for her to see the inner-workings of a mall. Seeing these other children so excited about what they are being taught was a heart-warming experience,” said Lee who has volunteered with CapitaLand on numerous occasions.
First-time volunteer, Centre Manager, Clarke Quay, CapitaMalls Asia, Keith Low was also there with his seven-year-old daughter, Phoebe.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for kids,” said Low who has been on the board of NGO, World Vision, for the last nine years. “This was a good opportunity not only to get involved but to involve my daughter as well. Using the mall, something the children are so familiar with, to get them to see everyday things in a new perspective is a really good idea.”
11-year-old Ferman agreed. “I never knew about these things. I like to learn about them.”
The day ended with a behind-the-scenes tour of Singapore’s flagship dance company, the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) which takes up a large portion of the seventh floor of Bugis+. This the first time such a tour has been included in a P.E.E.K. event. Having a tenant like SDT is part of CapitaLand’s efforts to integrate community facilities within malls under the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Community/Sports Facilities Scheme. The dance theatre’s presence in Bugis+ further enables the mall to engage the community and promote social integration. The children got the rare opportunity to learn about the different costumes and footwear the dancers used and a chance to watch a rehearsal.
Always looking to expand the experiences of the children and broaden their horizon, P.E.E.K. is the perfect platform to introduce them to the cool workings of a hip mall in the heart of the city.