Youth Corps surpasses its nominations target

Amelia Teng The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE - Singapore's new volunteer youth brigade has marched off to a good start, receiving more nominations than its target of 200 volunteers.

More than 200 names have been nominated so far by institutes of higher learning such as the polytechnics and groups like Mendaki for the volunteer scheme called Youth Corps Singapore.

Giving an update yesterday, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said the one-year residential programme to groom young volunteers is about taking a "life-cycle approach".

This is so that students can still be involved in community projects after they leave their secondary schools and move on to tertiary institutions, he said.

"We're building up a full suite of programmes from schools to tertiary institutions and even at the workplace, so that we can encourage this whole culture of volunteerism and participating in the community," he added.

The Youth Corps, which starts in June, is the first national-level programme of its kind for those aged 15 to 35. Friday is the last day for nominations.

First announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at last year's National Day Rally, the initiative aims to encourage students to take up community work beyond their school years.

Mr Wong spoke to reporters yesterday at Bowen Secondary School, one of the hosts of the National Secondary School Student Leaders Conference, held to instill a culture of volunteerism.

For the first time, 550 student leaders from 138 schools took part in community projects in 18 different venues at the event held by the National Youth Council and the Education Ministry.

A few groups visited elderly homes such as the Swami Home; others got a taste of how food charity Willing Hearts prepares food for the needy. Another group spoke to toilet cleaners at Bottle Tree Park in Yishun to find out the challenges they face in keeping restrooms clean.

Bowen Secondary student Fadhli Rusydi, 15, who spent time with the elderly at the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Centre, said: "The experience of interacting with them challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and I would like to help out more in the future after I leave school."