Winners of Youth Action Challenge summit get $50k grant to carry out initiatives to address societal problems

Non-profit organisation Advisory's co-founder and president Mock Yi Jun presents the group's idea during an earlier round of the Youth Action Challenge. PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

SINGAPORE - To help young Singaporeans make informed career and future education choices regardless of background, youth-led non-profit organisation Advisory has devised several initiatives to bring resources to the youth.

Advisory hopes to create a level playing field and support youth to pursue their passions, said co-founder and president Mock Yi Jun, 23, who is currently serving National Service.

It has come up with an online resources repository and a mentorship programme, as well as other events to help youth, mainly of ages between 16 and 28, find out more about the careers and pathways that are of interest to them.

The non-profit organisation was the winner among 12 finalists out of 57 teams which took part in the inaugural Youth Action Challenge Summit, held online from July 13 to 19 and organised by the National Youth Council (NYC), Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the People's Association Youth Movement.

Members of each team had three minutes to pitch their ideas to four judges, outlining their project, its social impact and how they would implement it before being judged on project feasibility, impact and validation of problem and idea.

The challenge, launched in September last year, encouraged youth to develop innovative concepts to address societal challenges.

As the top team, Advisory will receive $50,000 in funding and $2,000 CapitaLand vouchers, among others.

NYC chief executive officer David Chua said: "The recognition goes to not just the winners but also all the other participating youth teams for taking the initiative to meet societal needs, and persisting in turning their ideas into action despite Covid-19 and circuit breaker conditions.

"That is sheer tenacity, and I am proud of our young people."

Non-profit organisation Advisory members, in a photo taken before the Covid-19 outbreak, (from left) Ng Wan Jee, Teow Junhao, Brendan Loon, Mock Yi Jun, and Nur Hazeem Abdul Nasser. PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

Advisory was founded in 2016 and has benefited more than 87,000 students so far through its programmes and events, said co-founder and deputy president (external) Brendan Loon, who will be begin post-graduate studies with the University of Oxford later this year.

The non-profit was formed when a group of 12 then-students met through the Youth Corps Singapore Leader Programme and decided to work together to address the issue of empowering youth in education and career choices.

It now has 51 members, mostly youth who are still studying.

Mr Mock said the team plans to channel the funding to its upcoming online Guidance platform that will begin its pilot in August.

Students will be able to go online to book one-off industry consultation sessions with the 150 in-house coaches available.

The non-profit is also working on an Advisory Schools Programme with the Education Ministry to roll out a suite of programmes, including soft skills workshops and mentorship systems at seven post-secondary institutions next year.

"We're hoping to transport this model of year-long support into every single post-secondary institutions in Singapore in the next five years," said Mr Mock.

Another group AmbiSense emerged among the top three teams when it dazzled the judges with its idea - an artificial intelligence-driven safety alert app to help those in the deaf community.

The team, led by National University of Singapore electrical engineering student Woh Jingru, built an app prototype that can register particular sounds in the surroundings and send a vibration and visual alert to the deaf user's mobile phone.

AmbiSense members Mirdul Mahesh and Woh Jingru consulting an industry expert Mr Richard Koh, chief technology officer at Microsoft Singapore during the Youth Action Challenge Springboard Programme (Consult Clinic), before the Covid-19 outbreak. PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

The prototype currently picks up three sounds: car horn, fire engine siren and bicycle bell.

Ms Woh, 23, said the team partnered the Singapore Association for the Deaf to find out more about the problems that its community faces and decided to build a solution to tackle the issue of safety when outdoors.

The team plans to continue testing the app and use its $50,000 grant to expand the current five-person team so that more sounds and features can be integrated into the app.

It also hopes to reach out to the elderly, who are prone to hearing problems, to see if the app could be useful for them.

The other runner-up team receiving the $50,000 grant is Asean Business Youth Association, which hopes to develop opportunities for Singaporean youth in the Asean region.

AmbiSense was also picked to be one of two teams representing Singapore at the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit in Kuala Lumpur next year.

The other team picked was HEFTI, which came up with the idea of upcycling soya pulp into novel food products to reduce food wastage.

AmbiSense's Ms Woh said of the summit in KL: "It will allow us to... bring our idea to other areas in South-east Asia and to people who need our solution."

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