Young people have to make a conscious effort to be inclusive and mix with peers from different educational and social backgrounds.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told youth grassroots volunteers yesterday that egalitarianism - the belief in human equality - came naturally to the earlier generations as most people were poor.
"Now we have a society (where people have) different jobs, different wages, different salaries," he said at the People's Association Youth Movement Awards, which recognise outstanding youth volunteers for their contributions to the community.
This means that activities should be aimed at attracting people of different races and social backgrounds, he added.
Mr Shanmugaratnam, who is Minister for Finance too, also spoke about the importance of collective responsibility and "preserving the ethos that we are all in this together".
The launch of the national health insurance scheme MediShield Life is a way in which the Government and citizens share the burden of health-care costs, instead of shifting it to the next generation, he noted.
"Taking more collective responsibility and preserving an egalitarian ethos in Singapore are fundamental to our future," he said.
The awards ceremony, which took place at Orchid Country Club in Yishun, is held once every two years. There were 30 winners across six categories yesterday.
Winning a Special Award was the Kim Seng Community Centre (CC) Youth Executive Committee (YEC) for its project which aimed to improve the homes of elderly residents sustainably. For instance, youth volunteers gave out induction cookers to 80 elderly residents after finding out that many were using gas cookers or worn-out cooking equipment which could pose a fire hazard, said committee chairman Kimberly Toh, 34.
Mr Mohamed Noh Iskandar, chairman of Nee Soon East CC YEC, clinched an Individual Youth Award (Meritorious).
The civil servant, 26, has helped to organise many activities and initiatives, including the annual Project Give, where YEC members collect recyclables and sell them to rag-and-bone men. The money raised goes towards buying daily necessities for the needy.
His win came as a surprise.
"I didn't expect to win anything. It's a nice feeling."