Changing the world with ideals, energy and passion

Changing the world with ideals, energy and passion

TO SPUR young Singaporeans into taking up community work and continuing to do so beyond their schooling years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mooted the idea of a national youth volunteer corps.

At the National Day Rally in 2013, he announced plans to set up this platform, saying: "You are our future. You are idealistic, full of energy and passion. Go forth, change Singapore, change the world, for the better."

Youth Corps Singapore was launched last year with an inaugural batch of 200 aged 15 to 35.

Most were from tertiary institutions, but there were also working adults from industries such as finance and food and beverage.

During the one-year programme run by the National Youth Council (NYC), they went on volunteering stints here and overseas. They also received training and mentoring, as well as government funding for projects and networking opportunities.

Some of last year's projects included helping low-income families put food on the table through urban farming. Others tackled health or environmental issues, or helped vulnerable youth.

Those in the next intake for the programme will start training next month. Eventually, the NYC hopes to have 6,000 volunteers a year serving the community.

Between 2000 and July last year, the council also supported more than 27,000 young people who made 1,300 trips to carry out community projects across South-east Asia, China and India.

This year, the Government announced that it will donate money to schools so that students can use the funds to work on projects with charities as part of the SG50 celebrations.

Each primary and secondary school and junior college will receive $20,000 to use for causes that students identify with. Each polytechnic will get $150,000, and the three Institute of Technical Education colleges will be given $250,000 altogether.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said during his Budget speech this year: "We want to encourage the spirit of giving, and to raise the awareness of community causes in our students from young."

To reverse the dip in volunteerism when young people enter the workforce, the Government wants to "make giving part of the DNA of corporate Singapore", Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said last year.

The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre is developing a Singapore Roadmap for Corporate Giving to guide companies.

This article was first published on May 25, 2015.
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