Make-A-Wish Singapore’s new custom filter — download it here — is possibly the cutest thing on IG this Children’s Day weekend. We shan’t reveal any spoilers, but this randomised wish generator will transform your photo into popular childhood wishes inspired by those of children whom Make-A-Wish Singapore works with.
This IG filter is part of The Wish Effect, a campaign that aims to raise awareness about the transformational power of wishes not only on children with critical illnesses but also their families and the wider community, shares Make-A-Wish Singapore CEO Neil Dyason.
According to a study by Make-A-Wish America in 2011, 89 percent of health professionals agreed that wish experiences can help improve a child’s physical health. That’s not all: 97 percent of the children’s families observed improved emotional health too.
Make-A-Wish Singapore is the only wish-granting organisation of its kind here and grants only one wish to each medically eligible child. This year marks the 18th anniversary for the local chapter as well as the 40th anniversary of the first wish that led to the founding of Make-A-Wish globally.
And Dyason and his team are adamant to push through with their mission amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “With everything that is going on in the world, our community of children with critical illnesses needs support and encouragement more than ever, and for some, the effects of a wish can be a turning point in their treatment,” he says. “We hope that these initiatives will inspire more referrals and allow us to extend the power of wishes to more eligible children.”
The Wish Effect also includes a One Tiny Wish storybook, which will be distributed to hospitals and selected public libraries. It is inspired by the true wish experience of little Ming and how fulfilling his dream of becoming a pilot positively impacted his recovery journey and everyone around him. It is accompanied by the following video that’s available on YouTube:
Dyason hopes that the storybook can become a useful tool for medical professionals and social workers to share with critically ill children and showcase to the wider community the work of Make-A-Wish Singapore.
Read on for Dyason’s thoughts on the joys and challenges of making children’s dreams come true.
How has Covid-19 made your work at Make-A-Wish Singapore even more important?
Many of our wish children have had their wish experiences postponed due to the current circumstances. As they wait for their wishes to come true, our community of children with critical illnesses and their support circle — their families, nurses, doctors and social workers — need support and encouragement more than ever.
These illnesses do not stop due to Covid-19, but the hope and renewed strength that a fulfilled wish can bring are essential to a child’s healing. Even though we had to postpone the fulfilment of wishes, we never left our wish children’s side. We immediately worked to find creative ways to bring smiles to their faces — we continued to engage them by having virtual parties and mailing them all sorts of surprises to keep them anticipating and planning for their wish.
Your new campaign, The Wish Effect, which aims to raise awareness about the transformational power of wishes, includes an IG filter in the form of a randomised wish generator. What wish did you get?
The first wish the IG filter generated for me was to go skydiving. I experienced the exhilaration of jumping out of a plane when I was in the military — and I will never forget the feeling!
Growing up, though, what I loved to do most was playing football. But as I got older, I began to realise that becoming a professional footballer required a lot more natural talent than I possessed. That said, I still remember the sheer joy of playing football with my friends. The camaraderie, team spirit and perseverance that football taught me strengthens me to this day.
In your previous role with the National Council of Social Services, you oversaw community programmes for senior citizens. How does that come in handy for your current role?
Through interacting with the elderly, we quickly realised that each is a unique individual. Everyone has an interesting story to tell, if we only take the time to ask and listen. The same can be said about our wish children. They have their own likes, interests and aspirations — every child is unique, and every wish is unique. Hence, at Make-A-Wish, every wish journey is designed specifically for the wish child.
What life lessons have you picked up from working with wish kids?
They have taught me that regardless of the circumstances we are in, it is possible to find a way to do something good for someone in need. From wanting to raise funds for charity through the love for e-gaming to writing a book to share with other children how to be a good patient, wish kids have taught me that we can do good for others, even as we ourselves go through challenging times.
We also have former wish kids who have grown up and volunteer with Make-A-Wish Singapore. As wish granters, they are now the ones who bring joy and hope to children with critical illnesses. Above all, these wish children show us that the joy and hope that a wish brings can become a source of strength and perseverance to help them through their treatment and recovery journey.
Make-A-Wish Singapore has fulfilled more than 1,500 wishes over the last 18 years. How have your challenges evolved?
Aside from the usual outreach and fundraising needs that any organisation experiences as it grows within a society, a constant (but fun) challenge for the team is always keeping up with the latest trends and aspirations of kids! On any given day we’re a Paw Patrol expert, an interior designer creating a princess-themed room, watching someone famous play Minecraft, or “excavating” dinosaur bones — whatever our wish children are into!