Causes Week 2020: Volunteer group builds mentoring relationship with needy kids in Marsiling

Causes Week runs this year from Dec 20 to 25. It shines a light on various individuals and groups, and shows how they are making a difference through their chosen causes within the community.

Weekly programmes by Progress Class Society for children and youth went online this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO: PROGRESS CLASS SOCIETY

SINGAPORE - By bringing in kids through academic programmes, Progress Class Society hopes to also establish a mentoring relationship between the children and the volunteers to equip them with life skills.

The ground-up initiative in Marsiling, which targets children and youth from low-income families in the area, was started in 2015 by a group of five young people. It now has a network of about 100 volunteers.

Mr Akram Hanif, 24, one of the co-founders, said the group started with the intention of bridging learning gaps with a free tuition programme for primary school pupils.

Over the years, it has evolved to also cover socio-emotional skills and life skills, to better prepare the children and youth for life and opportunities, said Mr Akram.

The initiative now has a tuition programme for secondary school students and an enrichment programme for them to pick up additional skills.

"We started it because when our first batch of primary school children were graduating, they asked if there was anything for them at secondary level," said Mr Akram.

"We decided to do so because secondary school is a different ball game. I myself, in my secondary school days, was an odd kid and found it difficult to integrate and needed support," he said.

Beyond academic help, the volunteers are focused on being mentors to the children, said Mr Akram.

The programmes now help close to 200 children across primary and secondary levels.

Next year, the group plans to roll out a programme targeted at parents, to equip them with positive parenting styles and a better understanding of how to support their children, said Mr Akram. They will also be linked up with relevant agencies in Marsiling for support if necessary, he added.

The group hopes to engage 120 parents a week through this programme. "By making this a key focus for 2021, we want parents to understand that a conducive environment is important for the child," said Mr Akram.

The weekly programmes for the children and youth went online this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but Progress Class Society hopes to return to normal next year and help more children, he added.

In December, the group also started an online fund-raising campaign on the platform. It hopes to use the funds to hire full-timers and boost the parenting programme.

"We want to ultimately be a place where we can see upward social mobility for our beneficiaries and a positive system for them to move ahead," said Mr Akram.

To find out more, visit its Facebook page.

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