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Young cancer patients work the runway

SINGAPORE — For one day, 24 cancer-stricken children got the chance to forget about their illnesses and be “secret agents” and “princesses”.

SINGAPORE — For one day, 24 cancer-stricken children got the chance to forget about their illnesses and be “secret agents” and “princesses”.

Wearing costumes designed by 24 young designers from the MDIS School of Fashion and Design, the children, aged three to 13, paraded down the runway as part of Project Runway to Hope, a fund-raising event initiated by National University of Singapore (NUS) medical student R R Pravin.

Held at Memories at Old Ford Factory on Dec 14, the event was attended by 100 people, including doctors and parents of cancer patients. The event raised about S$1,000 for Arc Children’s Centre — short of the targeted S$5,000 — but Mr Pravin said the event was still meaningful as the children enjoyed themselves.

More than just a “respite from treatment” for the young patients, the 21-year-old hoped that the runway concept would help boost the children’s confidence.

“Some of the kids suffered hair loss and I know one who was half-blind from a relapse of a brain tumour. Through the runway, I hope to show the children that it is ... not only about what’s on the outside,” said Mr Pravin. “Instead, it’s about what you have in the inside, that inner beauty, inner joy that any child has. I want them to feel all that on the runway.”

Besides the 24 MDIS students, 20 NUS undergraduates had been helping to plan the event since July.

For the designers, it was an eye-opening experience as they had to take special care with the material used for the children’s costumes. Some of the outfits had to be adjusted a few times so that they would not irritate the models’ skin.

“For the first fitting, I sewed many tiny sequins on the outfit. And when she wore it, she found it very itchy and kept scratching. So I had to sew a piece of cloth behind (as lining),” said MDIS student Margaret Lee, 21.

The event also provided Ms Lee with a new perspective on these children. Before she met them, she thought they would mostly be quite weak. “But when I went down, I saw the kids running around and they were quite active. One of them even grabbed my hand and told me to take a photo of her.”

Ms Lee recalled how touched she was as her model strutted down the runway. “When she walked out, she was full of confidence. My dress was a fluffy one with sweets on top ... You can actually see that when she walked, she shook a bit and the sweets were jumping up and down. It was really nice and she looked very happy!” said Ms Lee.

One of the children who participated said: “This is the first time I modelled for a fashion show. It is the very first time for the rest of my friends as well ... I was also happy and thankful to be part of it as it is a good new experience for me — I really enjoyed myself.”

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