Keep track of big picture despite pandemic challenges: President Halimah to Youth Corps

SINGAPORE – Even as young people strive to overcome the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, they must not lose sight of the big picture, said President Halimah Yacob on Sunday (Aug 16).

This includes the fact that Singapore’s economy is in the process of restructuring, and that new markets and new opportunities will open up.

“Sometimes we look at the subset of issues facing us, but we forget the bigger picture: the various initiatives that are being embarked on to help the economy to grow,” she said.

“We started restructuring the economy before Covid-19, and that effort is ongoing… And that is the picture that we also need to look at.”

The President was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a dialogue with young leaders from Youth Corps Singapore.

Launched in 2014, Youth Corps Singapore is a national institution, with more than 20,000 members, that supports young people keen to serve the community.

Although many such events have gone online since the pandemic began, Sunday’s session was conducted in person at the Istana.

There were around 20 participants, who were seated at least 1m apart and wore masks except when they were speaking.

Topics discussed included how to help seniors become more digitally savvy, as well as strengthening the social support system for the vulnerable.

Participants also discussed their experiences continuing volunteer work – often with the help of technology – despite the pandemic.

For instance, during the circuit breaker period, Youth Corps volunteers organised online games and other activities for children to engage them so that their parents could focus on working from home.

Others helped to come up with activity packs for nursing home residents after limitations on physical visits were imposed.

One participant in Sunday’s dialogue was Mr Chin Jun Wuen, 21, who started the online community SGExams for students to share notes and help each other with homework.

The platform has since expanded its scope, and now also organises volunteer projects for young people to give back to the community.

“When Covid-19 hit, the students were really quite affected because they had to switch to online learning, and some didn’t know how to adapt,” said Mr Chin, an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore.

In response, SGExams organised an online “muggathon” to help students study together in an online space.

SGExams also worked on volunteer projects, such as distributing care packs to cleaning staff at MRT stations.

Summing up the dialogue, Madam Halimah said: “What I like most is that we continue to support the community.

“We’ve been doing a lot of community work before Covid-19, and now we continue with it in ways that are possible… for instance, leveraging on technology.”

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