Halogen shines light on inner strength, resilience in youth

Halogen Foundation Singapore founder Lim Soon Hock (centre) with students from Evergreen Secondary School in April 2015.
Halogen Foundation Singapore founder Lim Soon Hock (centre) with students from Evergreen Secondary School in April 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Charity's latest programme aims to build entrepreneurial mindset

Singapore charity Halogen Foundation, founded in 2003, has one key mission: to inspire young people to create positive change.

But not many young people believe they have that power, said Halogen chief executive Ivy Tse.

This is something the non-profit organisation wants to change through its suite of leadership and entrepreneurship programmes that aim to build resilience and inner strength among young people.

Said Ms Tse: "Every person, no matter how young, can exert a positive influence on the people around him. For example, when young children plead for toys and their parents give in - it shows that even they can exert an influence."

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) programme, for instance, is the newest programme in Halogen's suite of resources that hopes to help young people transform negative mindsets and beliefs into resilient ones.

NFTE was introduced in Singapore in 2014.

"Entrepreneurship is a concept that applies to more than just starting a business," said Ms Tse.

"No matter what role a person is in, the entrepreneurial mindset will prompt him to be on the lookout for opportunities, be resourceful and resilient even when faced with setbacks."

For students, for example, it could help them bounce back from academic letdowns, she explained.

The hope is that by helping young people build inner resilience, they will be less susceptible to external influences that can sometimes be negative.

NFTE was developed in the United States, but Halogen has included its own components. Last year, it added a mentorship component to prepare students for a year-end competition.

Halogen paired the 23 students who made it through to the final rounds of the entrepreneurship challenge with corporate volunteers, who acted as mentors to guide students on ways to make their business ideas come to life.

That was what drew participating schools, including Westwood Secondary School, to the programme, said Mrs Diana Kang, the school's dean of student development.

"The NFTE programme has a good blend of theory and practical skills and techniques. Having young mentors work alongside students, coaching by professionals, and providing opportunities for students to gain authentic learning experiences through visits and internships are the kind of learning that will engage our students," said Mrs Kang.

Halogen runs the NFTE programme for free in schools, with more than 60 per cent of students on financial assistance or from challenging family backgrounds.

But other than NFTE, Halogen has other initiatives, such as its Everyday Leadership programme.

About 40 per cent of the charity's operating expenses come from paid programmes, said Ms Tse. The rest comes from corporate sponsors, donors and fund-raising events.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'Halogen shines light on inner strength, resilience in youth'. Print Edition | Subscribe