Record 145 inmates win youth achievement awards

The Singapore Prison Service National Youth Achievement Awards ceremony.
The Singapore Prison Service National Youth Achievement Awards ceremony.PHOTO: SINGAPORE PRISON SERVICE

A record 145 young people in jail received National Youth Achievement Awards (NYAA) yesterday.

The inmates aged 25 and younger from Changi Women's Prison and Tanah Merah Prison earned the award for taking part in activities aimed at cultivating positive qualities, such as self-reliance and perseverance, for themselves and for the community.

Some of the winners also showcased their musical talent in a concert at a special NYAA ceremony at Tanah Merah Prison where the prizes were given out yesterday. The inmates' performance of Pink's song, Try, captured the spirit of their efforts to better themselves.

This year's crop of winners is the highest number since the Singapore Prison Service implemented the in-house scheme in 2000 under the national-level awards. Last year, 91 young inmates received the awards, which come in three categories - gold, silver and bronze - in order of impact.

To get a gold, participants have to take on a leadership role and complete a residential project that will benefit the community.

One of this year's two gold recipients, Kayla (not her real name), 25, compiled inspiring stories and quotes in the form of an artwork, as part of her community project.

STARTING AFRESH

I'm not what I've done, but what I've overcome.

KAYLA, a second-time drug offender and one of this year's two gold award recipients.

Her collage will be donated to the Singapore Girls' Home, where she hopes to inspire others.

Kayla, a second-time drug offender, said working towards the NYAA target was an opportunity for her to be proactive in making a positive change in her life.

"I'm not what I've done, but what I've overcome," said Kayla.

The A-level studenthopes to enter the hotel and tourism industry after her time in prison.

Mr Clifford Lin, vice-chairman of the awards' organising committee, linked the increase in winners to the larger number of participants, who heard about the programme's benefits from their predecessors.

Mr Lin, who is also deputy superintendent of prisons, hopes that participants will gain greater awareness of their roles in society and the community at large.

The guest of honour, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin, told the winners: "This award is just the beginning. You have to make full use of what you have gained to soar higher and inspire others as they rebuild their lives."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'Record 145 inmates win youth achievement awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe