Sporting a quirky and incredibly infectious smile, our next Everyday Hero describes herself as a “wildly optimistic and reflective being, who longs to connect with other people on a quest to living life to the fullest and striving to make a mark on the world!” . Cheryl is the Assistant Manager of Playeum, an independent registered charity (IPC) that champions children through play and creativity.
What inspires you? Or drives you to do what you do?
C: People inspire me, and the transformative element in the work that Playeum does drives me!
With her jolly demeanour, she shares her joy in being able to provide “high-quality play opportunities to the communities that need it the most” through her job. Though her schedule seems incredibly packed each day, Cheryl still manages to stay true to her personal goals and smile through it, motivating us to keep our heads held high even when things get tough.
“Each child is creative and competent in their own way.” – Cheryl
When asked to share a memorable experience, Cheryl finds it tough and tells us “there are so many!” She happily recounts one where a group of children worked so well together in a conducted activity despite their differences in backgrounds and their lack of familiarity with one another. “I didn’t have to do much”, Cheryl adds as she described herself to just “observe them in awe.” A 10-year-old boy, in particular, stood out with his mindful behaviour. As the oldest child in the group, the rest of the children turned to him as the leader. Post-activity, Cheryl went up to his mother and commended his sensible behaviour, much to the mother’s surprise.
C: She mentioned that this boy usually only plays with older children, and that made me realise that when we do give children that opportunity and time to showcase their skills, they can do them beautifully.
“Be reflective in your practice, work and your life.” – Cheryl
To Cheryl, the simplest act that someone can do to make a difference is to be grateful enough to say thank you. “It is very powerful to the human spirit”, she says, and we wholeheartedly agree. In our fast-paced lives, we often forget to thank those around us for even the smallest acts of service: be it to the bus driver who takes us to our destinations efficiently, or to the cleaners who pick up after us.
What do you hope to see or achieve through your work in Playeum?
C: Definitely a mindset shift about the importance of self-directed play!
Through Playeum, she hopes that her work will allow people to see that self-directed play will take on a key role in honing 21st century skills, such as creativity and critical thinking, in children.
C: You’ll be surprised, but most adults in Singapore also desperately need play!
Playeum has seen many adults go through self-directed play as well, where they’re allowed to do things their own way at their own pace, and they have found the process to be therapeutic and refreshing. Cheryl adds how most adults have forgotten to ‘play’ as they grew up, and feels that it’s an important process to incorporate in our lives.
A process that supports individuality like self-directed play is one that should be encouraged in a world where we’re still learning to step out of social norms. We hope that you will take Cheryl’s words into consideration and give your everyday work a touch of individuality!
Everyday Heroes is an online series that captures stories of youths creating impact and embracing possibilities to build a more positive community in Singapore. Most importantly, they help stand as positive reminders that doing good doesn’t have to look a certain way!
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