Celebrating five years of continued youth empowerment
Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at the Youth Corps Learning Festival, at *SCAPE The Ground Theatre
27 July 2019
Mr Amrin Amin, Chairman Youth Corps Singapore Advisory Committee and Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of Home Affairs & Health
Youth Corps Singapore Advisory Committee Members
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Before I start, I want to make a special mention to a group of people that we tend to take for granted and overlook. In many of our Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) programmes, not least the youth programmes, very often we are supported by very strong staff. The spotlight shines on the youths, who get all the opportunities and exposure, but these opportunities are provided by a group of very dedicated staff in the National Youth Council Singapore (NYC) and Youth Corps Singapore (YCS).
- I would like to request for the staff of Youth Corps Singapore to step forward and wave. It’s not easy being a staff of Youth Corps and NYC, why? Because it’s pioneer work. We started Youth Corps from nothing and the youth’s aspirations, interests and programmes are never static – we always want to make it relevant and exciting for you. This team has really been cracking their heads and working through the night to try to make this worthwhile for you. We are deeply appreciative of the team at Youth Corps Singapore and The National Youth Council Singapore. Well done!
Youth Corps volunteers have made a difference in Singapore and the region
- As you can see, YCS started in 2014 and from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s quote, it has provided youths with a platform. Prime Minister Lee said that youths are the future and can shape Singapore. We want to give you the access to opportunities and exposure that is so needed. More than that, you’re not just the future, you’re actually the present. You’re very much the present because you have so much to offer. What you’re learning in school and your workplace has so much to offer, with the amount of energy, creativity and good ideas that we are already seeing amongst Youth Corps volunteers. You’re not just the future, we want you to apply to the present what you can do already, leading the change and making an impact.
- YCS is now more than 20,000 strong and I want to emphasise the impact that you’re making. For example, for the children at Jalan Bukit Merah this is very much a present issue. As we are dealing with children who are growing up in less privileged environments, we cannot wait for the future because every year to these kids is important and every semester that you’re helping them, is a semester that is important for them. Every week that these children are missing school or are not catching up with lessons, is a week lost in their lives. There is no turning back for these children and we cannot wait for the future, we really need to take action now.
- We are glad to see young people like Muhammad Hafiz Bin Abdul Hadi, who started as a Youth Corps volunteer in 2016. Every week, volunteers like Hafiz spend time with these kids, teaching them, playing games with them, spending time with them, even after their Youth Corps programme. This is so important, and I cannot stress this enough because to many of these children, the fact that someone is there looking out and caring for them, sends a very strong signal that “I am worthy” of your attention and time. I think that this is a powerful message that everyone one of you can share with others.
Youth Corps Singapore will continue supporting youths to serve the community
- I would like to say that this is a very concrete example of how Youth Corps volunteers go the extra mile, spending their time and energy to improve the lives of the community. Some of you would have actually gone beyond Singapore, serving the neighbourhoods in the region as well. I would like to make special mention to Mohammed Abbas. He came up with a programme that helped seniors in Cheng San improve their diets and well-being and promote greater awareness of cardiovascular diseases. Abbas is also helping out in the region, with his service learning trip to Cambodia, where he used technology to enhance digital literacy among Cambodian youths. From first-hand experience, I can tell you that what you do is being noticed by the ministers in our neighbouring countries and they would often thank me for the work that you are doing. You are really flying the Singapore flag high and the reason why they are thankful is because they know that in order to bring digital literacy to remote areas, they need hands, legs and minds. People like you who know about digital literacy, you are able impart your knowledge and spend time with the youths there. The ministers from other countries are noticing your efforts and are appreciative.
- Abbas, for example, has been doing that. He has since gone on to start an exciting new business that enables financial access for low-income families. This is what youths, and anyone, can do if you apply your minds to it. Recently, Abbas was awarded the ASEAN Youth Award in Laos, where I just came from. Congratulations, Abbas!
- Like Abbas, many of you have also ventured out to the region as part of Youth Expedition Project (YEP). In the past three years, about 40,000 youths have gone to countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, China, to volunteer and serve. We would very much like to expand this because I think it’s important for our youths to be prepared to devote themselves to service. In an urban and developed environment like Singapore, you may not be able to get this breadth of service projects. In the region, we have a variety of projects that will appeal to some of you more and you can actually see the real impact, whether it is ensuring clean water in a community, or helping children learn basic English, or teaching them how to use a computer. These are really impactful projects and we are going to expand to let you have a chance to learn about other countries because ASEAN is important for us and we would like to prepare you with the kind of life skills such as working with one another in those countries and understanding people from those countries. There are many objectives and we’d like to expand Youth Corps and Youth Expedition Project so that we can benefit more youth leaders like yourself.
Acknowledging the good work done in collaboration with our partners
- Another avenue that I’d like to interest you is the SG Youth Action Plan. We are creating space for our youths who are involved actively, and we invite and encourage you to come onboard and join them. In order to achieve this, we need the support of many partners, such as our partnering agencies and ministries. The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Health, and all the statutory boards under them, are great partners because of their beliefs in engaging youths, which has enabled us to expand our facilities and programmes. I would like to thank all the partner agencies that are here with us today for believing in youths and Youth Corps Singapore.
- Another partner that I’d like to mention is Lakeside Family Services who have been with us for the last 5 years in the Youth Corps Leaders Programme. Lakeside Family Services staff help to mentor our youths under the Youth Corps Leaders Programme and allow YCS to have access to their beneficiaries. This is a critical part for YCS. In order for us to expand and allow more youths to participate, we need partners to open their doors and allow us to work with them. Our youths have forged strong relationships with the mentors and many of the beneficiaries have continued to volunteer with Lakeside Family Services beyond the Youth Corps Leaders Programme.
- On that note, I’d like to thank all our partners, whether in the public, people or private sectors, for believing in our youths and YCS for the last 5 years. I’d like to also thank you for your expertise, guidance and commitment that you bring to these projects. It is important for our young to understand the challenges and issues that they face because in the future, they will be in the government, policy-making, private sectors, leading the charge in business innovation, social enterprises or even the volunteer space. They will be a force to be reckoned with and therefore it is important for us to help them develop an understanding as early as possible.
- To the youths and young adults (and young at heart here today), I believe that you are a great force for positive change and a Rallying Force for Good. Every single action, no matter big or small, counts and everyone has a part to play to affect change in our community. We don’t want to wait for people, we want to take action and do things that are right and make it happen for ourselves. I will end with a quote from Michael Jordan, an NBA great – “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen”. Be the one to make it happen, and uplift those around you. Be the spark to light up the fire that warms up the nights of others.
- Finally, I would like to congratulate YCS on your 5th anniversary. Thank you.
Last updated on 31 July 2019