Teen co-founder of social enterprise helping needy children gets near perfect IB score

John Thng (centre) struggled to balance his commitments at first. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) school leaver John Thng Wen Cong has been adept at juggling his studies and a host of other activities, including running programmes to help needy children, organising fundraisers and making time for his hobbies.

He found out that he scored 44/45 for his International Baccalaureate (IB) assessment when he received his results on Monday (Jan 4).

The 19-year-old struggled to balance his commitments at first, but eventually did so with the help of a strict schedule and guidance from his teachers and peers.

In 2018, the teenager and two of his good friends founded The Youth Collective - a social enterprise aimed at nurturing children in need and empowering youths to become proactive in social work.

He said: "I was inspired to help children in need while volunteering in Meet-the-People Sessions in 2017. I felt that children suffered the most when a family is in distress."

He recounted how the three friends' lack of experience, formal qualifications and academic workload led to difficulty in convincing organisations to support their idea as well as a lot of late nights.

They were grateful that their teachers gave them confidence to pursue their vision despite the challenges, and helped them to keep up with their studies.

His work is funded by Alliance Healthcare as a corporate social enterprise. It runs weekly mentorship sessions at a neighbourhood primary school and a community soccer clinic.
The teenager said: "What the children need most is someone to make them feel important and be positive role models

He has also been involved in other initiatives, including leading a team of youth volunteers to distribute masks and hand sanitiser amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and organising a triathlon in 2019 to raise funds and awareness for the Singapore Children's Society. His team raised more than $5,000 that year.

The ACS(I) alumnus is also an avid photographer, using it not only to relieve stress but also inspire more young people to join his enterprise.

He takes photos of the activities he and his friends run and presents them to ACS(I) juniors to show how they can play an active role in helping the community.

Mr Thng hopes to expand his social enterprise by collaborating with more primary schools, and see more young people show initiative in giving back to the community.

He also hopes to pursue a medical degree, and explore helping the community in the medical field in the future.

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