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Getting youth beneficiaries to befriend the underprivileged and elderly

SINGAPORE — Instead of just having students befriend the elderly and intellectually disabled beneficiaries at their annual get-together event, the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Community Service Club (CSC) this year decided to get their youth beneficiaries to take on the role for the first time.

SINGAPORE — Instead of just having students befriend the elderly and intellectually disabled beneficiaries at their annual get-together event, the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Community Service Club (CSC) this year decided to get their youth beneficiaries to take on the role for the first time.

So on Jan 25, 34 youth beneficiaries from Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) — such as the Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre, a safe home for teenage girls, and Students Care Service (Clementi), a centre which provides social work and psychology services — were involved as befrienders at CSC Day X.

“From previous CSC days, there was a lot of focus between NUS volunteers and beneficiaries and we saw value and an opportunity for inter-beneficiary interaction,” said Mr Edison Tan, 25, project director of CSC Day X.

“Through volunteering, the youths will know that there are other people out there who may be more unfortunate than them. At least they have the ability to help and give back to society.”

Besides chatting with the senior citizens and less fortunate, the volunteers also guided them around 10 game stations such as “Angry Bird Dropping”, “Doll Me Up” and “The Shooting Game”.

The event culminated with a full skit performed by the NUS students. Carrying the theme of The Magic TV (Transcending Time, Endless Memories), the skit brought famous television characters, such as Phua Chu Kang and Little Red Riding Hood, to life.

Sharing some concerns the team had initially, Mr Tan said: “This is the first time we are doing this and we do not know how it will turn out. For example, I do not know whether or not the youths will learn anything from it or if some of them would create any safety issues.”

To prepare the youth, the NUS team held a briefing session with the youth volunteers on the rules of the event.

Terrel Koh, 15, a beneficiary from Students Care Service (Clementi), said he enjoyed watching the elderly having fun with the games and felt motivated to spend more time with his grandparents.

“We are not born to be equal, so we need to treat each other and others with respect. I want to take care of my grandparents more, and spend more time with them, because they have worked very hard to take care of me all these years through my hard times,” said Terrel.

Looking forward, Mr Tan hopes that CSC Day X will not only boost the youths’ confidence to give back to society but also inculcate in them the spirit of volunteering.

“The majority of them have not volunteered before, so we are hoping that through this event, they might be spurred to do volunteering on their own outside of CSC.”

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