All images courtesy of PPIS.
This story is part of RICE Media’s Storytellers partnership with the Singapore Muslim Women’s Association, or PPIS (Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura).
PPIS 7oaks Student Care Centre presents a story about child development in Singapore. Produced by Siti Wahida Yunos.
Aasif Ahmad is busy preparing himself for his PSLE exams in October. But no one is able to care for the 12-year-old at home during the day when he’s done with classes at Telok Kurau Primary School.
His mother, a single parent, decided to do what was best for him while she was busy working in the day—register him for after-school care at 7oaks Student Care in Bedok. Aasif needed a safe second home that could offer him opportunities to achieve beyond what he could by himself.
Aasif first joined 7oaks Student Care in 2018 at the age of 7. Small in stature and quiet in nature back then, much has changed over the years.
Today, he plays big brother to other children at the centre—a leadership role he has confidently taken on since actively participating in the holistic programmes the centre provides.
Doing His Best
At 7oaks Student Care, Aasif receives all he needs to develop himself in school and beyond. His days at the centre comprise supervised study time, tuition, English literacy activities, staying updated on current affairs and receiving moral education.
Another holistic programme Aasif always looks forward to is the weekly Friday Multisport Programme. Sponsored by the national SportCares and Li Foundation, the Multisport Programme at 7oaks Student Care inculcates a sense of purpose and motivation through multiple sports interests. And it’s just fun for the kids.
“Not only do the coaches here teach us about running, but they also motivate us to do our best,” Aasif offers when asked why he likes the programme so much.
“And I want to do my best to achieve my dream to be a professional soccer player. The dynamic drills we did every week helped me a lot in my soccer training at school.”
Coach Sunny has been running the Multisport Programme since 2019. Well-liked by the children, the athletics coach teaches and trains the children in the different skills utilised in athletics.
Dynamic drills may sound like heavy stuff, but they give the kids a chance to expend their energy and build up their fitness while doing it. At the end of every training session, the children play games that improve their throwing skills and speed.
“The children have progressed extremely well. If they were able to complete a duathlon last year, they can do awesome for this year’s triathlon,” he comments happily. But it’s Aasif who shines as one of his star pupils.
“Aasif participates actively in the programme and makes use of the values and skills he picked up to become a better person,” Coach Sunny remarks.
“He also shows care and concern for his teammates, sealing his leadership status among his fellow peers.”
As the default leader, Aasif is always looking out for his friends. I ask him to choose one he has kept close to since joining the centre.
He immediately zones in on Putra Al-Hassan, a 10-year-old boy who joined 7oaks Student Care – Bedok in 2021. Perhaps Aasif saw a little of his old self in Putra.
“At first, Hassan was very quiet and soft-spoken. He will only sit and talk to his twin brother, Hussein. When we played board games together, he would also speak very softly to me. Sometimes, I have to ask him to repeat what he said,” Aasif recalls.
“But last year, at a Junior Language Competition, I was surprised that he could recite a poem so well that he won the first prize! He’s no longer afraid to talk and play with us. He is very confident now.”
Like Aasif, Hassan is all in for the Multisport Programme. He enjoys running around—he goes out for jogs with his family during the weekends. He’s never skipped training once, a fact that he attributes to being able to spend time with Aasif.
“Aasif is a very nice friend and a good leader. He always helps friends who are in need. He’s also very funny and likes to joke around,” Hassan says, laughing.
If there’s anything that Aasif can take away from his years in 7oaks Student Care, it’s that he’ll always be stronger with friends than without.
“I enjoy coming to the centre. I can play and eat with my friends. During outings, I can go to places I have never been to before.”
“I always remind myself, ‘Do not be afraid and do my very best’,” Aasif shared before running off to join his friends.