Student leaders at youth summit called upon to be kind and serve the community

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann (centre in green) with student leaders from the 11th Global Youth Leaders’ Summit at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School on July 16, 2019.
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann (centre in green) with student leaders from the 11th Global Youth Leaders’ Summit at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School on July 16, 2019.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - In the Philippines, top voice artist Pocholo Gonzales has empowered dozens of young people by giving them a voice to air their concerns about social issues on radio shows.

By giving them the platform to raise their self-confidence, the motivational speaker has helped many young people find their purpose in life.

Although technology is helpful, too much of it can do no good, he told close to 500 students in a school hall on Tuesday (July 16).

"The only thing that creates impact is your presence. You can post many things on social media, but that does not mean anything. I choose to be high-touch, not high-tech," Mr Gonzales, 40, advised them.

Other motivational speakers and educators also called upon the student leaders from secondary schools, junior colleges, Institute of Technical Education and international schools, along with youth delegates from Asean nations,  to show kindness and serve the community.

The students were attending the 11th Global Youth Leaders' Summit at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School, which also included talks about service and smartphone addiction.

The annual summit was launched in 2009 to develop students' leadership skills and promote cultural and youth diplomacy.

The Character and Leadership Academy (CLA), a youth development charity which organised the summit, also launched a new movement called Be Kind to Every Kind, which calls upon young people to be compassionate to people, wildlife and the environment.

Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann, the guest of honour at the summit, also urged the students to disconnect from their digital devices and instead, build authentic relationships.

"This simple habit will help us to see and empathise with the needs of those around us - including people with disabilities, the vulnerable, and the lonely elderly," she said.

The 2016 National Youth Survey found that nine in 10 young people consider helping the less fortunate and contributing to society as important life goals. From 2008 to 2016, the youth volunteerism rate nearly doubled, with two in five teenagers and young adults actively embarking on volunteer work.

 
 

But the summit's organising chairman Delane Lim, who is CLA's executive director, has bigger aspirations - he hopes that every young person in the country will pay it forward with simple acts of kindness.

That propelled the 33-year-old to start the My Dollar Story campaign in June, in which Singaporeans are encouraged to use a dollar each to perform a kind gesture or help a person in need.

My Dollar Story was organised by CLA and marketing and communications solutions company Crowd.

Mr Lim kicked off the nationwide social campaign by pledging $10,000 to the cause. Within two weeks, 10,000 people from all walks of life, including school students, reached out to the campaign's Facebook page to ask for a dollar to carry out a small kind deed.

To date, he has put $20,000 from his savings and $10,000 donated by Formwerkz, where he works full time at, into the campaign. Stories of kind gestures carried out by Singaporeans are frequently being sent to the Facebook page.

At the end of the year, CLA and Crowd will publish an anthology that records the kind acts of 200 individuals.

The cover for the book, also titled Be Kind To Every Kind, was launched at the summit by Ms Sim.

The student leaders also had the chance to put what they learnt into action by visiting the elderly at their homes in Bedok North and buying groceries for them with money from the summit's sponsors. The elderly, who live in one-room rental flats, are beneficiaries of Bethesda Care Services.

Bendemeer Secondary School student Hafsa Farsana, 14, and her peers bought a month's worth of household necessities such as cooking oil, rice, fruits and vegetables for a 72-year-old wheelchair-bound woman.

The Secondary 3 student said: "Her son appreciated our help because he does not have to leave his mum's side to buy groceries this month. He is generally afraid to leave her alone in case she falls."