“We want to disorientate you, not orientate you,” declared Chu Yiu Tak, 22, Group Head for Implementation. He was sharing his life experiences with 15 SPLAT! volunteers from the Pioneer Junior College Interact Club during the Personal Mastery workshop, one of the six workshops conducted in the SPLAT! Volunteers Engagement and Development Huddle (VEDH).
The Huddle was held over two days in Jan 2009 at Pioneer Junior College. Through informative workshops and experiential learning, young minds were encouraged to question and strong bonds were formed between participants, who will play important roles as SPLAT! volunteers. More importantly, our volunteers’ conviction in helping youths-at-risk was greatly strengthened.
At SPLAT! , we believe that our young volunteers should be challenged to think without the box, instead of just ‘thinking out of the box’. That is why the workshops comprised largely of real-life scenarios that require creative problem solving on the participants’ part.
We also recognise the need for our volunteers to be well informed of the challenges faced by youths-at-risk and ex-youth offenders in Singapore, as this will help to strengthen their faith in championing the cause. A comprehensive and engaging lecture on youth delinquency was thus delivered.
Besides learning about the intricate workings of SPLAT! and the various volunteering opportunities available, participants picked up skills and knowledge that they could apply in school and in life: “I can apply what I learnt in real life, so I find this workshop useful,” said Cha Wan Zhen, a Year-2 student.
Other workshops conducted during the Huddle were:
- Achieving Organisational Synergies by Pamela Poh, Team Head for Information Management
- Management and Development of SPLAT! Volunteers by Augustine Chan, Manager of Outcome Management
- Youth Delinquency in Singapore by Dominic Lim, Group Head for Strategic Management
- Communication and Information Management by Augustine Chan
- Event Management by Augustine Chan
For our participants to have a deeper understanding of youths-at-risk and ex-youth offenders, SPLAT! invited Ms Ong Bee Khim, a Member Services Executive from the Industrial and Services Co-operative Society Ltd (ISCOS) to relate her first-hand encounters with these youths. ISCOS is one of our partners.
Little known facts about incarcerated youths uncovered during the discussion: The youths do not celebrate their birthdays in prison, though they get ‘special food’ during festivals like Christmas and Hari Raya. All letters are screened and will only reach the other party months later. They are only given five minutes to bathe. Not all youth offenders get the chance to study in prison school. The lives of inmates really piqued the interest of our participants!
On Day 2, the participants split up into three teams for their Experiential Learning, which involved completing certain challenges at relevant checkpoints such as Assumption Pathway School, Boys’ Town Home, the Juvenile Court, and Student Advisory Centre. Having had no prior knowledge of the locations and tasks, the teamwork and problem-solving capacities of our participants were stretched and maximised.
All the teams met at the Changi Museum and Chapel to each create an artwork in 30 minutes to raise awareness for youths-at-risk. They then trekked 6.5km to Changi Beach, passing by Prison Link Centre and Selarang Park Drug Rehabilitation Centre. The Huddle was wrapped up with a scrumptious dinner at Changi Village.
To be honest, this was my first time interacting with JC students since JC! I was so afraid that they would throw stones at me for talking to them as if they were primary school kids, whom I hang around with more but still have no control over! It didn’t help that I was tasked (note: not asked) to conduct a workshop on Achieving Organisational Synergies, as if I knew what that meant.
But I really liked being around them. They didn’t remind me of my JC self – angsty, lethargic, whiny – plain childish, actually. They’re a bunch of thinking, good-natured, honest, unselfish people whom Singapore should churn out more of. I’m really proud of them. This is going to sound like it came from a Public Relations textbook, but I can’t wait till they come on board so we can learn and grow together.
More Huddle photos here