SPEECH BY MR GAN KIM YONG, MINISTER FOR HEALTH, AT ARC CHILDREN’S CENTRE’S 3rd ANNIVERSARY GALA LUNCH ON SUNDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2014, 12.15PM AT THE PAN PACIFIC HOTEL

Mrs Goh Chok Tong, Patron of Arc Children’s Centre

Dr Rita Yeoh, Chairman of Arc Children’s Centre

Members of the Board of Directors

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

INTRODUCTION

            I am honoured and happy to be here today to celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of Arc Children’s Centre. Your presence here on a weekend afternoon bears testament to your continuing support and generosity in making a difference in the children’s lives.  

INCIDENCE OF CHILDHOOD CANCERS

2          Cancer can occur in children and the incidence of childhood cancers is highest below the age of five. In Singapore, between 1997 and 2013, there were about 90 new cases of childhood cancer each year.[1] Leukaemia makes up about 40% of the new cases and is our commonest childhood cancer. This is followed by cancers affecting the brain, which comprised another 17%.

3          With advancements in cancer treatments, the survival rates of childhood cancers have improved dramatically over the years. Survival rates for leukaemia, for instance, have risen from around 20% in the 1960s to about 90% today.

PROVIDING SPACE AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR WELL-ROUNDED GROWTH

4          Even as these children undergo the appropriate and necessary medical treatments for their conditions, it is important for them to receive a holistic education in a safe, supportive and friendly environment to prepare them well for the future when they grow up, despite their conditions. As a community, we should provide them this space and the opportunities to grow into well-rounded individuals through learning, playing, and socialising, like any other children.  

5          This is where the work of the Arc Children’s Centre is indeed laudable.  With the day-care services it provides to children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses, the Centre is a nurturing environment for their continuing education and social needs. Besides following a pre-school syllabus, I understand that the children would also explore creative and aesthetic interests through programmes such as music, arts, taekwondo and yoga. I am heartened by this holistic approach as it promotes self- confidence and self-identity which are crucial for their formative years. At the centre, they would also have the opportunity to meet other children like them, therefore minimising the sense of isolation they could feel after being diagnosed with cancer. Such positive interventions would go a long way in bolstering their mental resilience while undergoing treatment. These young ones show us how we can find the courage and strength within ourselves to overcome life’s challenges.

COMMENDATION

6          I commend the founders, Board members and volunteers of the Centre for your support and commitment. Your tireless dedication and passion to offer hope and love to these children are truly an inspiration for others in our community and our society is the better for it.  Your contributions show that Singapore is indeed a nation with heart and a compassionate home for all.

7          Congratulations, Arc Children’s Centre, and keep up the good work. I wish all of you an enjoyable afternoon and I look forward to the wonderful performances the children have prepared for all of us.

Thank you.


 

[1] The figures reported are for resident (Singaporean or PRs) childhood cancer cases.  Source: Singapore Cancer Childhood Registry.

 

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