Causes Week 2018: Telling kids they are Beyond Awesome

Beyond Awesome volunteers are cheerleaders to the at-risk and underprivileged children who attend the programme, says founder Emily Teng.
Beyond Awesome volunteers are cheerleaders to the at-risk and underprivileged children who attend the programme, says founder Emily Teng.PHOTO: COURTESY OF EMILY TENG

Laughter and loud voices emanate from the colourful room stocked with children's toys, books, and furniture in an industrial building in Outram. Inside, children run around, playing with friends as adult volunteers keep an eye on them.

The controlled chaos is part and parcel of Beyond Awesome, an after-school programme for at-risk and underprivileged children.

"Some potential volunteers see this mess and decide this is not for them," said its founder, Ms Emily Teng, 31, a former DJ who now runs the programme full time.

Unlike many other after-school programmes, the emphasis at Beyond Awesome is not on the child's academic progress, said Ms Teng.

Instead, the place is simply for the kids to be themselves. Volunteers are their cheerleaders, listening to them describing how their days went and engaging them in play and activities, she said.

"We don't focus on making Einsteins, we really just want them to be great humans," she said. "Most of these kids are not cheered on in school or at home, so in this space, we want to be their cheerleaders."

 

Beyond Awesome has some 40 volunteers and 20 children, aged between six and 16, who attend the programme once or twice a week. Volunteers also take the children out on educational trips on weekends. Volunteer Tan Yi Han, 25, said: "It's not just the kids who grow. You grow with them and it's very fulfilling."


Get involved in other causes

CAMPUS PSY

Volunteers from this mental health peer support group help out at mental health institutions weekly, and train students to identify and support peers in school who may have mental health conditions.

The group also carries out advocacy and outreach campaigns to increase awareness of mental health conditions.

For more information, go to the group's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/campuspsy/


YOUTH FOR CHANGE CONFERENCE

Hwa Chong Institution student Ang Zyn Yee, 17, founder of the Straw Free Singapore movement, is organising a green conference with two young environmentalists to bring together youth with their own environmental projects.

It will be a platform for them to share information on green initiatives that they can put in place in their own communities. To find out more, e-mail youthforchangesg@gmail.com



IN TOMORROW'S CAUSES WEEK

The Chosen Wan Cares Programme: Fighting with a purpose

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2018, with the headline 'Telling kids they are Beyond Awesome'. Print Edition | Subscribe