When David Koellner, Residence Manager of Citadines Kurfürstendamm Berlin first suggested that Ascott staff be encouraged to use the gyms at the serviced residences during off-peak hours to keep fit, he did not expect his idea to spark a global campaign across The Ascott Limited.
“We regularly receive e-mails from our CEO, Mr Lee Chee Koon, informing us about various emphases across CapitaLand. One such reminder was ‘health is wealth’. That inspired me to think of something to mobilise the whole company towards a healthy lifestyle,” said Koellner.
Though a simple idea, The Ascott Limited was quick to recognise its potential to transcend boundaries and draw people together for a greater good.
“My team refined the idea, enhancing the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) dimension and tying it to Ascott’s 30 th anniversary. We titled the initiative, "Moving Feet, Touching Lives" and launched it across the whole company,” explained Stanie Lim, Senior Manager, Ascott Centre for Excellence.
Moving Feet, Touching Lives
The three-month long global fitness and CSR campaign mobilises Ascott’s staff worldwide to exercise and clock in the mileage fortnightly. The distance accumulated is then converted into cash for charity. For every kilometre covered, Ascott will donate an equivalent of S$1 to Save the Children. The target is to accumulate 30,000 kilometres in three months as part of Ascott’s 30 th anniversary celebration.
The way to clock mileage is fun and wide ranging. Apart from walking, jogging and running, Ascott staff can also exercise as a group and clock in their kilometres collectively. Even guests can be part of the programme. They can either log in their personal distances or take part in official jogs organised by the properties.
The choice of Save the Children as the beneficiary of this initiative resonates with CapitaLand’s heartbeat for children. Save the Children is the world’s leading independent global organisation for children. It works in over 120 countries to save children and help them fulfil their potential. It provides supplies and emotional support to children in disaster-hit, poverty-stricken, and war-torn areas and improves children’s access to healthcare and education while protecting them from exploitation.
“It is great that when an idea gets the support of everyone in the company from the bosses to the employees, it can become something that brings everyone together regardless of culture and location and benefit children in need,” said Koellner.
More Than Just a Fun Run
On 12 August 2014, "Moving Feet, Touching Lives" was officially launched with an Ascott-wide run that involved Singapore, China, and several Southeast Asian cities that Ascott has presence in.
“We kicked-off together at 5.30pm Singapore time to show that this is a concerted, united, company-wide effort to make time to exercise for a good cause,” said Lim.
Nearly 500 staff across the various cities donned their running gear and took part in the five-kilometre run.
Avril Gu, Sales Manager, Shanghai, Ascott China was at the Singapore leg of the run.
“It is a good activity. I don’t exercise much but when I go home, I will also encourage my colleagues to exercise more and stay healthy,” she said.
Gu plans to exercise at the gym and walk part of the way to work when she returns home to gather more mileage for charity.
Ascott's Human Resource Manager for the United Kingdom and Germany, Martin Ball, was at the London leg of the launch as well as the Singapore one.
“My personal target is 500 kilometres at the end of the three months. Since I cycle on weekends, I don’t think this is a problem,” he said.
Running alongside him was his friend, Christian Widemann, Residence Manager, Citadines Arnulfpark Munich.
“I did a four-kilometre this morning,” he said. “I hope to clock in 400 kilometres in all.”
“A group of us have already been meeting every Tuesday for a year to run. To combine sports with CSR is both different and meaningful because of the emphasis on health and charity. It makes it more rewarding,” added Jocelyn Hea, Senior Manager, Human Resource, CapitaLand Limited.
Nigel Tovey, General Manager, Somerset Lake Point Bangkok, appreciated the sustained effort.
Many within the organisation are already fired up about the cause. Properties in the Philippines have organised a three-on-three basketball tournament and a Zumba and Run event to help them meet their target of 10,000 kilometres for their cluster. Plans are afoot to conduct wall-climbing and trapeze-flying sessions. Ascott China Corporate had a sports carnival for their staff in Shanghai.
By the end of August, two weeks after the launch, the Group surpassed its original target of 30,000 kilometres. To date, the company has collectively clocked 77,210km, which is almost equivalent to going round the equator twice!
Some colleagues in China have been so supportive of this initiative that they have literally changed their lifestyle. Beak He, an Engineering Technician from Ascott Chengdu, decided he would now cycle to work instead of taking the 50-minute bus ride to work daily in support of "Moving Feet, Touching Lives". He alone topped the mileage chart with more than 1,000 kilometres at the end of August. Together with his engineering colleagues, they were also leading the mileage chart.
Jaylee Fisher, an executive from Citadines on Bourke Melbourne, is also one of the top contributors. She has clocked more than 700 kilometres alone in just 30 days. “While I was in Papua New Guinea recently completing the Kokoda Track, I saw the conditions families live in and how the children are raised in the villages. Having read that Save the Children work with the local government in Papua New Guinea, I immediately had the urge to exercise as much as I could to help raise money for this cause,” she exclaimed.
By the end of September, the collectively effort to exercise has been converted to more than 100,000 kilometres, surpassing its initial target over three times! With this many feet involved, the lives of the children in need will surely be touched.