Formerly-problematic students go from zero to hero

The students who gathered at the MDIS Auditorium were known for their disruptive behaviour and negative attitude in school. But on Nov 22, they were not gathered at the auditorium to be punished. Instead, the 115 students were there to be awarded for breaking free of their bad habits and their successful completion of the programmes offered by the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA).

Parents and relatives at the inaugural Positive Youth Development (PYD) awards night had been invited to celebrate the success of their children's development into proactive students.

The valedictorian Vignesh Kanagasabhai (right) was one of them. He earned his place after completing two out of four of SINDA's youth programmes and displaying great leadership qualities. He received a much-deserved gold award.

The ceremony was graced by former senior Cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan, who was the guest of honour.

Said Mr Dhanabalan about SINDA's programmes: "Today's programme deals with a particular set of youths, those who do not do well in studies not because they are not intelligent, but because they have attitudinal, behavourial and emotional problems. Today's valedictorian clearly showed how his own life and attitude has changed. Because his attitudes towards his peers, his parents, his siblings, towards the authority has changed, he focuses a lot on his studies. This is an important element in SINDA's programme."

These programmes focus on activities which encourage children to build the confidence to succeed in their academic environment.

In his address to the students, SINDA CEO K. Barathan said: "While you take pride in what you have achieved, my wish for you is to also show that transformation in your academics and life choices. Have the right attitude, as only that will let you push yourself further and succeed in seizing the opportunities available to you."

The students were given gold, silver and bronze awards. The recipients were assessed on their conduct, attendance, peer approval and leadership.

Two special awards used a different form of assessment. The peer leader award is given to a student who has served as a SINDA team leader for at least one programme, while the peer choice award is given to a student who has displayed good conduct and has been elected by his/her peers in a social media-based vote.

The ceremony came to a close with the launch of SINDA's first group Instagram account to spread its success through social media.

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