Project Pari

Helping teenage girls scale new heights

Causes Week runs this year from Dec 20 to 25. It shines a light on various individuals and groups, and shows how they are making a difference through their chosen causes within the community.

Project Pari was started by the Zonta Club of Singapore in 2008 for secondary school girls from lower-income families, helping them learn useful skills beyond the classroom.
Project Pari was started by the Zonta Club of Singapore in 2008 for secondary school girls from lower-income families, helping them learn useful skills beyond the classroom.PHOTO: ZONTA CLUB OF SINGAPORE

For over a decade, teenage girls involved in Project Pari have learnt how to code, manage their finances and even take part in an outdoor trek.

Next year, 100 young women from four secondary schools will be able to pick up a new sport, tag rugby, courtesy of a partnership with the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU). Tag rugby is a non-contact version of rugby in which each player wears a belt that has two velcro tags attached to it.

Started by the Zonta Club of Singapore in 2008, Project Pari aims to empower girls from lower-income families and help them learn useful skills beyond the classroom. Each beneficiary receives a monthly $50 allowance and can participate in six activities, including an outdoor trek and two workshops teaching life skills.

The sports workshop next year is a first for the organisation and its vice-president, Ms Lynnette Ee, said that the initiative is in line with the club's mission of exposing its beneficiaries to as many things as possible.

She said: "Besides learning about the sport, you learn about teamwork and building relationships with each other. Our primary objective is to get them out of their zone of comfort as much as possible, which is important to empower a person."

Slated to start in the first quarter of 2021, the sessions will be taught by coaches and players from the national women's team.

The SRU also aims to raise $100,000 for Project Pari, with $10,000 raised so far through a virtual workout led by national women's rugby player Chong Hui Min for employees of Dell Technologies.

SRU's support for Project Pari is part of its Rugby Gives Back initiative and is done in collaboration with social enterprise Elpis @ Hideout. Mr Douglas Danapal, SRU's head of commercial, public relations and marketing, said: "It's also about showing that rugby is not just a man's sport and there are a lot of female athletes playing who have also gone on to take roles in sports."

Ms Ee believes that the tag rugby sessions will be a hit among the girls and will consider introducing adding more sports to their programmes in the future.

Interested donors can visit this website for more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2020, with the headline 'Helping teenage girls scale new heights'. Subscribe