September 7, 2020
Words by: Valerie Kor
(Photo Above) Youth Go!’s counsellors, unable to conduct programmes at their Tampines Care Corner, have joined their outreach communities in online games such as Mobile Legends, and on apps such as TikTok and Instagram, to stay in touch with at-risk youths. BRYAN VAN DER BEEK
Covid-19 is stressful for adults, but it can be even more disorienting for youths and children, who need schedules and crave face-to-face interaction. Youths at risk, or those from low-income families need more help and assistance.
See how these charities innovated to do more for our children and youths.
(Above) Dr Roland Yeow, executive director of Boys’ Town, is the respected and beloved leader of the home’s 40 residents. He sees his mission as helping his charges “become better parents and adults of tomorrow”. CAROLINE CHIA
During the circuit breaker period, parents had to deal with finding extra screens for WFH (working from home) and doing HBL (home-based learning) at the same time. For Dr Roland Yeow, executive director of Boys’ Town, HBL meant he needed screens and good Wi-Fi for 30 boys at the home, ranging from 10 to 19 years old. He also needed to keep them engaged.
Thankfully, they had some older laptops that could be refurbished, and they also received help from an unnamed donor who provided more devices.
Boys’ Town serves children and youths from disadvantaged and disengaged families who may have faced hardship resulting from difficult home situations and financial struggles. It runs sports programmes such as Triathlon Club and The Soccer Club, as well as music workshops and work attachment programmes. It also has alternative schooling lessons for youths with behavioural issues who are at risk of dropping out.
While some of these programmes have been suspended, Boys’ Town’s activities continue with staggered sessions.
Let them jam 2/3
(Above) Mr Das, 55, does double duty at REACH Youth Service, managing maintenance at REACH Youth Powerhouse and teaching youth how to play the drums. BRYAN VAN DER BEEK
We can all agree that whether a child is in primary school, university, or even in National Service, music can be enjoyed by all. For youths at risk between 10 and 20 years old who are interested to learn and perform, REACH’s Youth Services’ Rock Steady music programme is a platform for them to do so.
Performing music helps adolescents cope with stress and is also helpful for building confidence. To put up a stage performance, one needs repeated practice and rehearsals with others. It encourages teamwork and social interaction.
REACH Youth Services says that their programmes have alleviated anxiety disorders and depression for youths. Now, Rock Steady uses a combination of Zoom sessions and on-site sessions as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. REACH also offers counselling support.
(Above) Speech therapist Ms Sephine Goh, 31, works with a student on “WH-” questions (specifically “WHo”) to get her to understand the concept of names, titles and/or animals. The 11-year-old pupil has developmental delay, and has for the past year been receiving weekly sessions of about 45 minutes through Club Rainbow. She has gone from saying single words to constructing full sentences, and shown progress in language and communications skills. BRYAN VAN DER BEEK
Youths and children, who had to cut off contact from teachers and friends, don’t always know how to get in tuned with their emotions to deal with them in a healthy way. 21-year-old Mr Zack Pang facilitated a special four-week workshop through CampusImpact’s Theatre Thursdays programme together with experienced speech and drama trainers. The latest one was conducted with children at CampusImpact’s after-school care centre in Yishun, in conjunction with local theatre group Pangdemonium.
The children leaped in the air, froze like museum statues, and stretched their facial muscles. The goal was to learn how to express their emotions through speech and drama.
Learning to release their emotions in a fun workshop helped the children destress and find tools to process.
Most children in Singapore could simply be worried about whether Covid-19 has affected preparation for their year-end examinations. However, there are some youths who are concerned about survival.
For these at-risk youths, early intervention is better than late. These charities know to push through despite Covid-19 restrictions to reach out to them via programmes and workshops to keep them engaged and integrated.