betty July 30, 2022

SINGAPORE – At nine years old, Rebecca Wong is determined to make a difference by helping underprivileged children.

To achieve her goal, the Primary 3 student at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School wrote a picture book last December.

A total of 121 books were sold among friends and family, and she donated the proceeds of $3,600 to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF).

The fund is a community project by The Straits Times that provides pocket money to children from low-income families to help them with expenses through school.

In Rebecca’s children’s book, The Great Candy Competition, two groups compete for a candy-filled treasure.

The winners later decide to share their prize with the losing team.

She told ST on Thursday (July 28) that, like the winning team in the book, she recognises her privilege and wishes to help others.

“Many children may not have the same blessings that I have, and I chose the fund because I want to give pocket money to those who need it.”

With the help of a two-week holiday programme by Artistic Strategies, Rebecca wrote and illustrated the 12-page book last year. The educational organisation grooms young writers by helping them tell stories through various art forms, such as visual arts, clay and music.

More than 1,000 students, ranging from six to 15 years old, have registered in such activities with Artistic Strategies over the past seven years.

Its founder and principal Claudine Fernandez, 39, said: “It is a chance for children to harness their imagination and develop their own personal voice, so they can tell their own stories and relate what is meaningful to them.”

Rebecca’s mother, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Wong, 41, recalled how they were initially going to print only 20 copies but ended up printing 121 copies after realising there was a demand for them.

“We started selling the books in February this year, and the support came from family and close friends. Everything was simply by word-of-mouth.

“What we considered special was when Rebecca explained that it was for a cause she was supporting that was to help children,” she added.

Since the STSPMF started in 2000, more than 180,000 cases of children from low-income families have received school pocket money.