Speech by President Halimah Yacob at the Youth Corps Leaders' Commencement Ceremony 2023

01 April 2023

Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Second Minister for Law

Youth Corps Aspirants
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased to join you at the Youth Corps Leaders’ Commencement Ceremony, where we celebrate the achievements of 170 Aspirants who have completed the Youth Corps Leaders Programme. 

Youth Corps Singapore, as part of the National Youth Council, has championed youth volunteerism since 2014, with the belief that the passion of our youth can create positive change in our society. Youth Corps focuses on ensuring that every youth volunteer has a meaningful experience to care for society’s disadvantaged groups.  One good example is how the youth helped to facilitate the visit by young beneficiaries to the Istana under the Picnic@Istana series. By volunteering together, they develop mutual trust, appreciate diverse viewpoints and eventually become steadfast friends.  

Some of our youths also step forward to be part of the Youth Corps Leaders Programme. As Youth Corps’ pinnacle leadership programme, youths commit 9 to 12 months to grow together with their peers, and serve the community.

I am glad that since its inception, the Youth Corps Leaders Programme has nurtured over 1,350 leaders from diverse backgrounds.  These Youth Corps Leaders constitute a part of National Youth Council’s larger network of societal youth leaders where they have access to further developmental opportunities locally and overseas, and platforms to contribute at a higher level.

Every Aspirant has benefited from the guidance of community partners and mentors, and are empowered to address community needs by starting, sustaining, or scaling up service-learning projects.

All this is only possible with the support of the passionate and committed partners that Youth Corps works with. With them, Youth Corps is able to curate a diverse range of programmes to suit youths’ varied interests and commitment levels. Some of these programmes are also developmental in nature, where volunteers may be tasked to oversee volunteering projects, guide new volunteers or work closely with social service agencies. Youth Corps partners therefore play a crucial role in ensuring that our Aspirants benefit from a diverse and meaningful experience, which plant the seeds of leadership in youths who are passionate about volunteering and want to make a change. 

Let me share three examples of how our partners have done so. First, with the support of the National Environment Agency (NEA), we were able to introduce the NEA Youth For Environmental Sustainability (YES) Edition as part of the leadership programme for this cohort of Youth Corps Leaders.  Last year, 17 Aspirants deepened their environmental knowledge and skillsets, and together, they helped to create a positive impact by raising awareness on sustainability for over 300 residents in the community.

One of the teams, Repairläh organised community workshops to foster a repair culture for a sustainable world through community workshops. Aspirants conducted five workshops to equip Hougang residents with technical skills to refurbish their household appliances. They have continued to advocate for a culture of maintenance to foster an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Second, the team of Aspirants at Project Shine worked together with Rainbow Centre Young Adult Activities to organise enriching activities to engage youths with special needs and designed activities for caregivers to be involved meaningfully. In doing so, the Aspirants also formed strong bonds with the families.

Third, a team started KidsCount with Care Corner Singapore, to help lower primary students from disadvantaged families to bridge developmental gaps in numeracy through educational activities. Through this project, the Aspirants were better equipped in supporting the learning needs of children, and gain insights into the family needs of each child. 

I am heartened by many of these projects, which are led by our Aspirants, as they demonstrate the desire of all of you to do good for the community and create positive ripples of change, even during the challenging pandemic years where you adapted swiftly and leveraged technology to continue to serve the disadvantaged groups. Even as you complete your commencement ceremony today, it signifies the start of your community leadership journey, and not the end. There are many ways that you can continue contributing. 

The Pay-It-Forward Award (PIFA) allows you to start ground-up initiatives or join youth-led Clusters to serve based on your interests. You may also choose to support volunteering programmes as an associate mentor, facilitator, or volunteer coordinator to impart knowledge and insights gained from your leadership journey to the younger youth volunteers starting their own volunteering journey. Allow me to share two exemplary Youth Corps Leaders.

Juggling his full-time career as an operation executive, Muhammad Habib Bin Abdul Kadir continues to serve the community actively, even after his “graduation” in 2019. He is on the executive committee for the Facilitators’ Network and emcees regularly for several Youth Corps’ events under the Ambassadors Team. Habib was also recently selected by the National Youth Council to represent Singapore as Head of Delegation to attend the 4th ASEAN-India Youth Summit held in Hyderabad, India in February this year. 

Hannah Batrisyia is currently a full-time student in NTU. Having graduated in 2022, Hannah continued to volunteer as part of the organising committee for KidsCount in this year’s Cohort. She also serves as an active member in the Facilitators’ Network for the Sustainability and Mental Health Clusters.

I hope that Hannah and Habib’s stories of staying the course to fulfil their passion to serve, will inspire you to continue your journey as community leaders. Our ability to come together, to care for one another, is what keeps our diverse society cohesive. In the course of your leadership programme, you have bonded with other Aspirants, appreciated their diverse views and talents, whilst developing a strong sense of empathy to care for the vulnerable. Together, we can build a caring, cohesive and confident nation where no Singaporean is left behind.   

Congratulations once again to all of you for successfully completing the Youth Corps Leaders Programme. 

Thank you.


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