SINGAPORE - When Alisha Insyirah Jasni enrolled at Raffles Girl's School (Secondary), she had to apply for a co-curricular activity. Out of six choices, Girl Guides was her fifth.
Naturally, she was disappointed when she was allocated to the uniform group.
Nevertheless, she threw herself into it, and three years later, the 16-year-old has become the company leader of RGS Girl Guides and was among five recipients of the President's Guide Award (PGA) conferred by President Halimah Yacob on Wednesday (Dec 8).
Madam Halimah also conferred the President's Scout Award (PSA) to 23 Venture Scouts in a ceremony at the Istana attended by the recipients, while their family members watched it online.
These awards are the highest honours bestowed on Singapore's most outstanding Girl Guides and Venture Scouts, in recognition of their performance, service to the community and dedication to the Guides and Scouting movements.
"I feel honoured to receive this award. It's an acknowledgement of the effort that I put in and a reminder of the people who supported me, like my parents, batch mates and Guiders," said Alisha, referring to other CCA members and her seniors.
Mrs Koh-Teh Yi Wen, chief commissioner of Girl Guides Singapore, said young people like the PGA Award recipients, with their deep commitment to driving positive change, boded well for the future.
One of the most memorable events for Alisha was organising the first online camp for Girl Guides in RGS. The two-day camp took place in June on Zoom, an online video calling platform, and involved teaching the Guides campcraft and outdoor skills with the use of Kahoot, a game-based learning platform, and Pear Deck, a Google Chrome extension which makes slides interactive for its users.
"I think that because of Covid-19, we need to accept that the norms have changed but amid that, we need to stay innovative to ensure that Guiding traditions go on," she said.
Another award winner, Ang I-an Aaron Resse, leads the Black Knights Air Scout Wing, a unit made up of students from different secondary schools.
The 18-year-old Singapore Polytechnic student was the project manager for Project Sustainable, an environmental initiative involving 20 Scouts from November last year to January this year.
As part of the initiative, they visited several beaches, including Sembawang Park Beach and East Coast Park, every month to help clear rubbish.
"I think this initiative really motivated people to clean up after their own trash since they were able to see how much of a difference it makes after we clean the beach," he said.
Mr Desmond Chong Kok Hwee, chief commissioner of the Singapore Scout Association, noted: "With the disruptions brought on by the pandemic in the past two years, the leadership and resilience shown by all our award recipients during their journey to attain the President's Scout Award is commendable. I have no doubt that they will continue to play an active role in our community and in so doing, contribute to creating a better world."
Alisha hoped the award would be a reminder for other Guides and non-Guides not to let the pandemic hinder them.
She added: "I think this award really gave me hope and emphasised that we can continue to excel when we put in the effort."