For the past 3 years, Richard Wee and his friends have been running FUNFIT, a fitness programme in our neighbourhoods. Once a week, children, youth and their caregivers would gather at an open space to run, skip, jump and simply move vigorously for 60 minutes. Richard has introduced the programme at 5 different localities and currently, 3 are alive and kicking.
Last Friday, these 3 groups came together at an open space within the Henderson neighbourhood for the FUNFIT Challenge. This inter-community event is rotated among the neighbourhoods every 4 months and the healthy rivalry has surfaced neighbourhood pride and forged new friendships as care-givers, children and FUNFIT volunteers from different communities meet.
73 children, youth and care-givers assembled in their designated areas and before the competition began, all participants shook each other’s hand as a commitment to fair-play and sportsmanship. Check out this link for videos of the FUN FIT Challenge
It was delightful watching children focussed and encouraging each other as they tried to outpace and outdo each other in skipping and other movements that did not require intricate skills. In this respect, Richard will always find an opportunity to remind these children that they can have much fun and excitement without their smartphones and gadgets. He will stress to them how engaging in physical activity is fundamental to their well-being.
So, when I met Richard at the FUNFIT Challenge, he shared how happy he was a couple of weeks ago. A boy who was on the chubby side came up to him and softly said, “Sir, I passed my ‘standing broad jump’ test in school. Thank you.” In Richard’s mind this was a huge achievement as the boy was constantly out of breath when he first came to the programme. He was also very low in confidence and rather clumsy. Being able to pass his fitness test in school was a tremendous boost to his self-esteem and well-being.
Every week, children turn up with their parents and as people become familiar with each other, neighbours become friends. These friendships cut across generations, race and religion and with the challenge being held regularly, across localities too. Although there is always friendly competition, people are proud of each other’s progress and happily help with attendance taking, ensuring general orderliness and occasionally, they contribute the refreshments. Community emerges when people gather around a shared interest and co-create a mutually satisfying experience that they call their own.
Enjoy your week,
“I prefer people, not dollars …dollars buy you professionals, who will then do the work because you paid them to, a transaction, not community life.” – Richard Wee or PapaRich as he is known to the communities he nurtures.