Tak Takut Kids Club
About Tak Takut Kids Club
In 2019, Tak Takut Kids Club (TTKC) started as an independent social experiment by 3Pumpkins. The curiosity was to find out if a community space for children, embedded in rental flat estate and helmed by fun-loving and caring adults, would bring any positive change to the environment and socio-emotional resilience of its young residents. Boon Lay Drive was chosen as the piloting site and TTKC started with a half-shop space, a subtenant of a laundromat.
Today, TTKC is a strategic partner of a larger integrated social service network of Comlink @Jurong West. Our ‘child-first’ approach on the ground have led us to discover emerging issues and resolve problems that the conventional social work structures have difficulty in detecting and engaging: a child who endures beating at home because he is afraid of seeking professional help; a child who goes hungry for weeks because she is afraid of reporting loss of ez-link card; a child who doesn’t attend school because he is afraid of the piling school work. “Tak Takut” means don’t be afraid. Our core relational work is to build trust so that the kids will not be afraid to open up to connect with others, connect with themselves. The centre has thus far connected with 200 children (aged 7-14) and their families, and journeyed with 50 at-risk children in close case support.
Building a stable and engaging community life has been a big part of TTKC’s placemaking work in the past year. Our current spaces include a multi-purpose art studio, community kitchen, and a children’s garden. Our routine includes cooking, gardening, sports, free play, and TTKC Getai, a performative platform where the kids can showcase their talent. These spaces and routines create a stable and supportive second home for children and youth who yearn for a sense of acceptance and belonging. To quote 11-year-old Nikky, “TTKC is the only therapeutic space in my life.”
It is Friday evening in Boon Lay. People are hurrying home for dinner, tired after another week at work. Most pass by the common corridor with barely a glance into the two units that are occupied by Tak Takut Kids Club (TTKC).
This evening is particularly busy. In the maker space, lovingly called Big TTKC, a table filled with youth of various ages are carefully cutting out paper masks from a template. The masks are roughly feline in nature. They’ll start colouring and painting on them when they’re done.
The makerspace takes on the layout of an old 2-bedroom flat. The TTKC community uses the space like a large family would in a small space, always making space for the individual while co-existing. Separated by a tall storage shelf, the ‘costume department’ is rattling away at the sewing machine. Tonight, it’s about making adjustments to a cosplay costume.
A few doors away, past a clinic and a laundromat, is the community kitchen. Amanda, a volunteer, is showing youth how to cut slabs of cheese to coat with breadcrumbs before dipping them in a frying pan to make cheese balls. The youth suggest food that they would like to cook weekly with Amanda when she comes on a Friday.
Just outside, Ziv is on a ladder, tacking up a large cloth to create a makeshift projector screen. He has just finished a dance mentoring session with a youth and is setting up for ‘Just Dance!’, a Nintendo Switch game. Since 2019, the game console has been the first ‘facilitator’ to have brought dance to TTKC.
Walk a little further past the playground and Jimmy, TTKC’s beloved community artist, is pulling a sheet taut between two trees and back-lighting it with a small spotlight that’s been rigged from multiple extension cords.
This evening’s entertainment is shadow puppets. A small crowd gathers to watch when it gets dark. The players move the hand-cut puppets about. There’s no script, so everything is improvised. But it isn’t about putting on a show with a story, it’s about the experience of watching shapes come alive in the dark, of capturing a kind of magic, something only fleetingly felt in camping trips or other in-between spaces. It is about possibilities.