Ever since I was youth worker running camps and basically running around with young people, I have always been asked 3 questions in my career in the social space. Firstly, “What is it you actually do?” Then, “Why is it important?” and finally, “How would you know that you are making a difference or what really is the impact you are making?” These questions may not have been phrased as such every time but those asking were seeking answers in a similar direction.
In 2016, with funding from the Tote Board and the National Youth Council, Blackbox Research was commissioned to conduct an independent study of our Youth United Programme which cultivates community in public rental housing neighbourhoods to care for its youth. After a year, the researchers discovered that our presence brought about a community where people trust each other enough to share their problems. Youth reported that they were able to better handle conflict in their families while adults felt better about their living environment and their overall life situation. On Wednesday, we held a media briefing to share these findings and we are most heartened by the coverage we received. The Straits Times, Today Online, Mothership.
At this point I must say that encouraging as the results may be, we don’t work miracles. There are many challenges such as the lack of income, the lower chances of doing well in school, poor health and such that remain. Our work encourages people to take ownership of their challenges and the positive results should not preclude other relevant interventions. Meanwhile, we continue to build on the strengths of people instead of just focusing on their weaknesses as feeling strong empowers one to put right what’s wrong.
On 21st November evening, Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S. Iswaran chatted with our children as they showed off their art during Beyond 50, a fund-raiser seeking to expand our donor base as we move toward our 50th anniversary in August 2019. His genuine interest encouraged every child to proudly explain what their piece of art was about and when he finished touring the mini-exhibition, every child viewed their work as a masterpiece. Importantly, the children will now attempt their next art piece with gusto.
We are grateful to Minister Iswaran for demonstrating the value of being an appreciative presence. When we recognize and applaud the efforts neighbours make in caring for each other, the value of a neighbourhood appreciates not because property prices have risen but because it has become a caring place called home.
Enjoy your week.
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. – Matsuo Basho