SINGAPORE - By volunteering, young people develop character, leadership capabilities, and ultimately help build a more inclusive and cohesive society, said President Halimah Yacob.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Voice-for-Change carnival at Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary School on Friday (June 29), Madam Halimah said: "It does not only benefit the beneficiaries - most importantly, it helps the young volunteers themselves develop character and leadership capabilities, and that will help stand them in good stead."
She added that more can be done on a broader level to provide a nurturing environment for the youth, so that they can take what they have learnt through volunteering to the working world as well.
Organised by student leaders, the carnival, held ahead of Youth Day this Sunday, aims to empower young people to reach out and make a difference to the community, as part of the school's Values In Action (VIA) programme.
Proceeds from the carnival will be split equally to the school's six partner beneficiaries - HCA Hospice Care, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, Presbyterian Community Services, Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled, Lions Home for the Elders and Reach Community Services Society.
Madam Halimah also purchased two paintings done by a teacher of the school.
Nur Ameerah, a Secondary 3 student who was one of 60 students running the Kazoku Cafe, said she and 15 others attended culinary classes weekly from February to prepare for the carnival.
Their menu included burgers, ramen and soba.
The 14-year-old added that she and her class volunteered with Reach Community Services as part of VIA, where half of them cleaned four one-room rental flats, in March.
"After that experience, I realised life is pretty smooth for me. I also realised that I'm not very grateful for what I have, like my parents and the school. Even when times are tough, we should always help someone out," she said.
Said Madam Halimah: "I hope on a broader level that we don't just stop at youth volunteerism.
"Volunteerism as a whole should become part and parcel of society, something we strongly believe in, because we are part of the community, and as part of the community, everyone can chip in to do their part to help improve the lives of those in need."