Speech by President Halimah Yacob at Youth Corps Service Week

Ms Sim Ann,

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ministry of Trade and Industry

Youth Corps members,

My young ladies and gentlemen,

 

Good morning.

I am delighted to be here to launch this year’s Youth Corps Service Week. I am heartened to see so many passionate young people coming together to serve our society. In the coming week, over 1,500 youths will take action to touch the lives of over 1,200 beneficiaries. This effort embodies the spirit of SG Cares and fosters a culture of care, compassion and cohesion among our youths. 

Our young people have an innate sense to care for our society. They can be a rallying force and a source of inspiration for others to make a positive impact on our community. As a society, we should help them by believing in them, encouraging them and giving them opportunities.

Volunteering is not just about giving back to society. The experience itself builds character and develops volunteers into active citizens. This is especially true for youths who start volunteering at a young age. They get to understand what it means to care for people or promote good causes. They learn to appreciate what they have, develop empathy and compassion for the less fortunate, and grow a sense of belonging to Singapore. They acquire valuable skills which can be applied in their personal lives or work subsequently.

It is therefore my hope that our young people will step up to volunteer – living and embodying the spirit of care and compassion. You have the power to show us the way forward to create a better Singapore now and tomorrow.

To date, Youth Corps Singapore has rallied more than 14,000 members who share the same desire to build a caring and cohesive society. I am particularly heartened by the diversity of our members, who range from students in ITE, Junior Colleges, Polytechnics, Universities, to young working adults, all coming together to be a united force for good. More than 1,000 of you have also completed the Youth Corps Leaders Programme since it was launched in 2014. As Youth Corps Leaders, you can multiply your impact by kick-starting your own projects and organising activities for your peers. 

Take for example, Randall Teo. Randall is passionate about serving the special needs community. As an active member of Youth Corps’ newly formed Special Needs Cluster, he has been leading a group of youths to organise various projects advocating for Persons with Special Needs. In December 2017, Randall led the cluster to partner Toys r Us on a project titled, “Quiet Hour”. As part of the project, Toys r Us reduced sensory inputs such as lights and in-store music for an hour to create a conducive shopping environment for family members with autism and special needs. During the session, volunteers also engaged special needs children in sensory play and Christmas craft. Randall is working with his friends again on a new project in April. This time, he will be leading his peers to guide beneficiaries from the MINDS Me Too! Club on a nature trail plotted with different station games along the way. I wish Randall all the best in his next project. I hope many other volunteers will be able to support his project.

Randall’s effort is an inspiring one, but it is not the only one.  Many other Youth Corps Leaders are doing similar good work. I therefore urge society to give youths such as Randall a voice through volunteerism. I firmly believe that our youths are critical pieces of the puzzle to creating a caring Singapore. Youth Corps Singapore plays that important role in rallying more youths to serve and amplify their impact. We should tap the potential of our youth volunteers, and create opportunities for them to contribute.

My young ladies and gentlemen

Of course, youth volunteerism goes beyond the Youth Corp Service Week. In fact, volunteerism should be something we do every day, in our community, at work or even at home with our family and friends. Volunteerism is a way of life. It is a movement that must be sustained. I therefore encourage you to continue channelling your energy, skills and passion to give back to society. Encourage more of your peers to do likewise. In turn, I hope to support and enable your journey of service in every way possible. Youth Corps Singapore will continue to sustain the interests and engagement of our youths in your service to the community.

All it takes is a spark to get the fire going. Together, let us make Singapore a caring nation and a more endearing home for everyone.

Thank you.