AT TAYLOR'S: Shamsiah Ismail (shamsiah.i@gardenschool.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: Refer to 'Partners' section
Project Arts 360 (PA360) was founded in 2012 by Crystal Koo, then a Year 12 student at Garden International School. The project is a 100 percent student-led community service project that aims to encourage the appreciation of arts and sports among underprivileged children. The project was ran by a collective Central Team of Year 12 students on the principle of wanting to expand the reach of arts and sports to a wider community. PA360 and its Central Team is also supported by a Board of Directors consisting of members of the founding PA360 team.
“The aim of this project is that we want to spread the love and appreciation of arts and sports among children, primarily focusing on underprivileged children,” says Crystal Koo, Founder and Director of Operations of Project Arts 360. In addition to the weekly sessions of activities for these underprivileged children, Project Arts 360 also organizes special events, such as the recent football and basketball tournament between the children and the volunteers during the summer break of 2013, a visit to Aquaria KLCC, and an arts themed Amazing Race. Spreading the spirit of cooperation and friendship even further, Kasumi Higewake, a PA360 volunteer, celebrated her 16th birthday by having her friends buy presents for the 40 children of Lighthouse Children’s Welfare Home.
Spending a year planning and brainstorming the project with others, Crystal encountered some challenges, especially with funding the project. It was her family, specifically her parents, who initially donated capital for her to kick-start the project. “It was rather tough to start on a project without any funds on hand. I am really thankful that my parents and family supported me in this. Without them, PA360 would never have got off the ground,” she recalled. From this humble beginning, Ms Koo approached her peers and expanded her team to include Kang Yun Seok, Joanne Leong, James King and Kenneth Noronha. They then set out to engage charity homes with their initiative as well as build their Central Team further to encompass a team of 12 dedicated individuals. Presently, three homes have been engaged in this project: Home of Peace Kuala LumpurRumah Charis and Lighthouse Children Welfare Home. “Sometimes the homes may be uncertain or have their doubts about what we do and how the children may benefit from the arts and sports, but they become very supportive once they see our project in action,” explains Kenneth, the Public Relations and Communications Director.

The community project runs every Friday for an hour at Garden International's Mont Kiara campus, spreading out into several divisions: Arts and Crafts, Drama, Photography, Sports, Music, and the newly established Creative Writing. Children ranging from 3 to 18 years old are given the chance to decide themselves on which division they would like to be a part of each week. The most popular divisions are music and sports, which at times would fill up with 20 children. Photography as a smaller, more specialist division is attended by the older students. “Each week, we try to bring as many children in as possible. The children have to be bussed in, and this is our largest expense. Garden International School subsidizes our project. We generally have two buses coming in each week, with us paying for one while the school paying for the other.” Student funds for the project have been raised by various activities in school, with the popular ‘Battle of The Bands’ being one of them. The annual event organized by Garden’s Music department features the top student rock bands in school with 100% of ticket sales being donated to the Project Arts 360. The ‘Battle of the Bands’ raised more than RM4,000 for PA360 this year.

Those seeking to support this project can contact
Shamsiah Ismail at shamsiah.i@gardenschool.edu.myor Crystal Koo at koocrystal@gmail.com.

Written by Amelia Ooi