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Aspiring youth activists can start small, say panellists at TODAY’s inaugural Instagram Live webinar series

SINGAPORE — Youths hoping to get involved in social causes do not need to rely on a third party to form the bridge for them. It can be as simple as speaking to people in need near their homes, said a social activist at a lunchtime webinar on Thursday (Nov 12).

The first session of TODAY's webinar series on Instagram Live on Nov 12, 2020. (From left) moderator Elizabeth Neo, TODAY senior journalist Navene Elangovan, director of Citizen Adventures Cai Yinzhou, and ItsRainingRaincoats founder Dipa Swaminathan.

The first session of TODAY's webinar series on Instagram Live on Nov 12, 2020. (From left) moderator Elizabeth Neo, TODAY senior journalist Navene Elangovan, director of Citizen Adventures Cai Yinzhou, and ItsRainingRaincoats founder Dipa Swaminathan.

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  • The first of TODAY’s inaugural Instagram Live webinar series was entitled "Activism no longer a dirty word: The rise and impact of youth activism and its future in Singapore"
  • A social activist told the audience that getting involved in social causes can be as simple as talking to low-income workers living near them
  • Another panellist said it was okay for youths to take a break from activism if they felt they could not sustain their involvement

 

SINGAPORE — Youths hoping to get involved in social causes do not need to rely on a third party to form the bridge for them. It can be as simple as speaking to people in need near their homes, said a social activist at a lunchtime webinar on Thursday (Nov 12).

Citing the examples of migrant and low-income workers, Mr Cai Yinzhou told the audience of TODAY’s inaugural Instagram Live webinar series that they can invite these workers for coffee and just chat with them about their lives. He told TODAY later that this type of interaction could help to change perspectives about these workers.

“I think the best kind of interviews, the best insights that you can get, are really from conversations,” said the director of Citizen Adventures, which organises tours to Geylang and Dakota to raise awareness on social issues specific to the neighbourhoods.

The 30-year-old was responding to a question asked by moderator and CNA presenter Elizabeth Neo about how youths can stay informed about social causes they support, and to whom they ought to be speaking.

Both were part of a panel discussion titled “Activism no longer a dirty word: The rise and impact of youth activism and its future in Singapore”. It was the first in a series of four discussions on issues affecting Singapore society.

They were joined by TODAY senior journalist Navene Elangovan and Ms Dipa Swaminathan, a lawyer and founder of the migrant workers group ItsRainingRaincoats.

One question raised by an audience member during the 40-minute-long discussion was about how youth activists can prevent themselves from feeling burned out when they feel their work does not make an impact.

Chiming in with her opinion, Ms Navene, 30, shared an example of a young environmental activist who told her colleague that he was feeling discouraged that his work was not making a difference.

However, unbeknownst to the activist then, he had actually inspired someone else to take action.

“A lot of times you're probably making an impact, (but) you're just not seeing it,” said Ms Navene, who has written extensively about young activists raising awareness on climate change and migrant worker issues.

Citizen Adventures director Cai Yinzhou (left) and ItsRainingRaincoats founder Dipa Swaminathan, who were guest speakers for the first session of TODAY's Instagram Live webinar series. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

“You just have to keep reminding yourself that, yes, your dedication to a cause is making a difference in small ways, even if you're not necessarily seeing it.”

Ms Dipa, 49, added that striving to achieve results for a social cause takes time, and youths should not feel discouraged if change does not happen overnight.

Besides, youth activists also have age on their side, she said.

But, more importantly, she said young activists should also learn that it is acceptable to take breaks between their efforts.

“It's okay to give it as much time as you can, when you find the time. Eventually, it will become a habit... (and) become a part of who you are,” she said.

“You don't have to feel the pressure and give up something just because you think you don't have the capacity to sustain that commitment (to a social cause).”

Catch the full panel discussion on TODAY’s Instagram account at: https://tdy.sg/35s0fNv.

Part Two of the series will go live on Nov 19 at 12pm, where TODAY correspondent Ng Jun Sen, criminal defence lawyer Josephus Tan and social media personality Jade Rasif will discuss the perils of cyber vigilantism.

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