Channel NewsAsia

S$2m for first batch of Youth Corps projects

The first batch of volunteers under the Youth Corps Singapore programme will be able to tap into some S$2 million of funds for projects, says Parliamentary Secretary for the Community, Culture and Youth Ministry Low Yen Ling.

SINGAPORE: S$2 million has been earmarked for projects by the first batch of Youth Corps Singapore volunteers. Newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary for the Community, Culture and Youth Ministry Low Yen Ling revealed this to Channel NewsAsia in an exclusive interview on Monday (June 23).

The money comes from the $100-million National Youth Fund set up to support youth initiatives and innovations to co-create social change for the benefit of the community.

To tap into the funds, the first batch of some 100 volunteers will have to work with nine community partners that have been identified, and propose projects that will benefit the targeted beneficiaries of those organizations.

Partners identified include Hemispheres Foundation, which focuses on environmental and social development work as well as Trybe which works with psychiatric patients and their families, as well as the intellectually disabled. The aim is to give young Singaporeans a boost when it comes to initiating social causes."We hope that the National Youth Fund will be a platform and will be a catalyst that will help them jump start the process of translating those ideas to fruition," said Ms Low.

Youth Corps Singapore was first mooted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during last year's National Day Rally to increase opportunities for young people to do projects in the community. The target is to have 6,000 volunteers between the ages of 15 and 35 each year.

Ms Low is also Parliamentary Secretary at the Social and Family Development Ministry and Mayor of the South West District. She said she hopes to create synergies between her role at the ministries and as Mayor, for example, in using arts and culture to create volunteer opportunities for youths.

"If I use arts and culture as an example, the recently launched We Care Art Fund is a case in point, how can we use art and culture to work with the Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), weave that into their programme, to promote well-being, to promote rehabilitation for the patients and the beneficiaries of the VWOs," she said.

"Another potential for synergy is how can we use sports to promote and to foster a stronger sense of independence amongst Singaporeans with disabilities. For example, how can we slowly ensure that sports is accessible to Singaporeans with disabilities, allow them to participate in sports. This is where next year, Singapore is hosting the ASEAN Paralympics and we hope to heighten awareness on this," Ms Low added.

And as Singapore approaches 50 years of independence, Ms Low said this sprit of giving back is one way young Singaporeans can build a better sense of appreciation for the world around them. "Volunteerism will help our Singaporean youths to gain confidence and life skills and appreciate the world we are living in and also have a strong sense of ownership and appreciation and also become a contributing member of the society."

The first batch of 90 Youth Corps volunteers has just completed their induction programme. It was a five-day course at Pulau Ubin. The second phase will see the volunteers go through a year or two of community service in Singapore and abroad.

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