In the not-so-distant past, residents were able to gather en masse on open fields with a full band playing on stage as they cheered and roared in excitement. Such festive and carnivalesque sights have all but vanished though since safe distancing measures were put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 last year. 

Instead of simply calling off all celebrations, Resident Committees (RCs) and Community Clubs (CCs) have been organising online events to make up for the lack of physical gatherings. Bukit Batok East (BBE) CC, for example, pulled off an online concert last year during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The Youth Network branch in BBE also ran several online events such as SG Open Mic, E-board Games Night and the Virtual Sports Fest, which allowed residents to remotely participate in weekly workouts and send a proof of completion via Google Form using videos and data collected from a running app.

Residents celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with live performances and online activities such as lantern making and colouring. 
Photo Credit: Bukit Batok East Youth Network

Organising these virtual events was not easy, says Mr Derek Chow, vice chairman of BBE Youth Network and organiser of the Sports Fest. “The challenging part is when you can’t meet the expected turnout rate.”

The BBE Virtual Fest required participants to complete their workout challenges to stand a chance to win prizes. 
Photo Credit: Bukit Batok East Youth Network

There’s also a need to do multiple mock runs to ensure everything went smoothly during the actual event, says Ms Sherry Joanna Lee, vice president of BBE Youth Network. 

On a more positive note, virtual events like the SG Open Mic are cost-saving. Ms Lee says: “We cut down costs because we needed no vendors for equipment and participants were using their own instruments.”

Her CC was also able to reach a wider audience through collaboration with other CCs across Singapore. In fact, the Jurong Open Mic event was renamed SG Open Mic as there were participants from different areas of Singapore.

SG Open Mic is organised collaboratively by Rivervale Court RC Youth Chapter, Jurong Spring CC, Yuhua CC and Bukit Batok East CC. 
Photo Credit: Instagram

Despite the lack of physical interaction, some participants enjoyed themselves during these online events. Mr Praveen Huded, a participant of the E-board Games Night, says: “It was slightly difficult at the start because we did not know each other, but as the time progressed and we played more games together while getting to know each other, it became more enjoyable!”

Residents had the opportunity to play board games such as Spyfall, Secret Hitler and Trust me, I am a doctor online. 
Photo Credit: Bukit Batok East Youth Network

Ms Lee pointed out that online events can be very engaging with the “emcees making the effort to keep the conversation flowing by bringing up participants’ comments from the chat and encouraging them to speak up during the live event”.

For Mr Chow, he believes that the participation rate will go up if he can increase the marketing budget to raise more awareness of his virtual events.

He hopes young Singaporeans will “continue to engage in social activities, be it virtual or face-to-face, as long as they are adhering to safe distancing measures”.

Edited by: Anmi Chou Shigeta
Proofread by: Winny Wint Htae