For 62 prison inmates, Monday contained a proud moment - when each of them walked up the stage to receive the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) at a presentation ceremony held at Tanah Merah Prison.
Many of their family members were present at the ceremony, where the guest of honour was Education Minister Heng Swee Keat. Addressing the award recipients in his speech, Mr Heng said: "I wish you the very best...Make good use of the support many in the community and your families are prepared to give you."
The NYAA is a nationwide youth development programme which aims to hone attributes such as self-reliance, perseverance, and a sense of responsibility in the community. This year's inmate awardees come from Tanah Merah Prison, Changi Women's Prison and Changi Prison Complex.
Award participants have to complete activities in four areas: community service, skills development, expedition and exploration, and physical recreation.
This year was the first time that the inmate participants could engage in sessions of Zumba and basketball clinics by the Singapore Slingers. NYAA Bronze Award recipient Wani (not her real name), 21, enjoyed the Zumba sessions thoroughly. "I liked dancing before I came into prison, so it was really fun to be able to dance even in prison," she said.
She is in prison for drug-related offences, and intends to try for the NYAA Silver Award this year, before she is released from prison next May.