More than 50 social entrepreneurs, corporate philanthropy partners and youth leaders gathered at the Red Box on 18 March to discuss the topic of giving back to the community. Themed “Moving Forward by Giving Back”, the dialogue kicked-off SPD’s newest initiative – the SPD Youth Development Programme (YDP).
The speakers consisted of SPD President and Nominated Member of Parliament Ms Chia Yong Yong, Ms Debra Lim, co-founder of social enterprise Society Staples, and Mr Chia Boon Chong, Director, Corporate Sustainability, SingTel. The discussion was moderated by social entrepreneur Ms Phua Hui Jia, founder of Skillseed.
Joshua Ong, 22 years old and a recipient of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities, was one of the 15 youths invited to be part of the year-long training and mentorship programme.
The Nanyang Technological University undergraduate in Linguistics and Multilingual Studies (above left) had struggled with his disability after being diagnosed with glaucoma when he was in Secondary School. A desire to do more for the special needs community motivated him to join the YDP. “I’ve been told many times what I can and cannot do because of my disability. Our disabilities do not define us and it should not stand in the way of what we want to do. I hope that by advocating for more educational institutions to tailor-fit the curriculum and to make provisions for students with special needs, more youths can fulfil their academic aspirations,” he said.
The YDP aims to develop young individuals with disabilities to champion disability causes. They will undergo training to be equipped with skills that will empower them to give back and promote further inclusion in society. The youths are guided by mentors who are also actively contributing to the social and youth sectors.
The programme comprises training that will gear participants towards executing social inclusion projects with seed funding of $3,000 for each group of three participants. SPD is working alongside youth volunteerism trainers from Skillseed to design, develop and conduct training and impact measurement. The first training session commenced in end-January 2017.
“The youths were identified for this programme as they have shown tremendous tenacity and resilience in overcoming the many challenges thrown at them. They make excellent role models and we are confident that, with some guidance, they will make great disability advocates and go on to make greater impact in the community,” said Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director, SPD.