New interact club in Sembawang has community health as its youth members' main objective

The Interact Club of Sembawang will see its 49 members organising health-related programmes in the area. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The Rotary Club of Singapore has set up its first interact club focused on public health in Sembawang.

The Interact Club of Sembawang (ICS), which was launched on Wednesday (June 15), will see its 49 members, aged 15 to 19 years old, organising health-related programmes in the area.

Some programmes include inculcating healthy eating and exercise habits in young children, providing mental health support for youth, and organising social activities for the elderly.

Interact clubs are the youth arms of the global Rotary Club network.

ICS president Anson Koh, 19, said its current members are mainly from secondary schools and junior colleges, but the club plans to hold recruitment drives at polytechnics.

The Temasek Junior College graduate, who has been tutoring disadvantaged primary school students for free since 2018, said he wants to find more ways to give back to the community.

Mr Koh said his father's business failed two years ago, so he had to work to support his family while he was still studying. But he continued to do volunteer work with various organisations.

"I started to really understand the struggles of children from low-income households when I started working and being financially independent," the teenager said, adding that it was tough to juggle work, his studies and other commitments.

Mr Koh wants to help more disadvantaged young people through ICS' proposed mental health programmes. He also hopes that through the various activities, the club can influence others to become public health ambassadors.

For a start, ICS has partnered Yishun Health, which runs a network of medical institutions and health facilities in the north of Singapore, including Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Yishun Community Hospital, to introduce existing community health programmes to students.

Students have gone door to door to reach out to residents, held community gardening activities, and helped out at community health posts operated by Yishun Health last week.

On Wednesday, the students showed what they had learnt from their three-day attachment at the community health posts by measuring Health Minister Ong Ye Kung's height, weight, grip strength and blood pressure.

A member of the Interact Club of Sembawang gives Health Minister Ong Ye Kung a health check on June 15, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Mr Ong, who was the guest of honour at the club's launch, said community volunteers, such as ICS members, have a role to play as the country moves towards preventive care under its Healthier SG strategy, which aims to get Singaporeans to manage their own well-being.

"The healthcare system is now opening its gate," he added. "Everyone must take charge of our own health, but the system will be developed to support us."

Professor Chua Hong Choon, Yishun Health's chief executive officer, said its strong partnership with ICS will "bring about healthier lives to the people of Sembawang".

"Our staff work endlessly, day and night, 24/7, the whole year round, looking after people with medical problems and sickness and emergencies," he said.

"We know very well the only way to solve this problem is not more doctors, not more hospitals, but to have a healthier population.

"Getting people to be healthy is everybody's job. It's our job, our own personal responsibility."

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