IMPACT 0495: FORGING FRIENDSHIPS FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Youth Action Challenge (YAC) is a platform for youth to provide solutions that tackle the issues we are concerned about. Since October 2021, over 80 teams and more than 310 youths have undertaken the YAC Season 3 journey.
Cheang Yiu Wei, Joel, is a 23-year-old social work student at the Singapore University of Social Sciences. In his free time, he volunteers and participates in community projects with children, seniors and the deaf community. He is also constantly searching for new ways to contribute back and through the YAC, his project, Conexa, was born! Today he shares more about the workings of this project.
What was your role within your YAC project?
Within my YAC project, I took on the role of stakeholder engagement and management, as well as facilitation training.
What motivated you to join YAC?
I joined YAC because I wanted to be more involved with the community once again. Prior to entering the army, I had many goals and projects that I wanted to implement. However, all these did not happen due to COVID-19.
Initially, I blamed my lack of community involvement on the pandemic. However, seeing the people around me who continued to give back despite COVID-19 made me realise that I was just making excuses for myself. Thus, I wanted to contribute actively again and joined YAC.
Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?
Throughout the project, it was a struggle as our prototype was constantly questioned by our mentors. After every meeting with them, the team would feel as though we had taken three steps forward but two steps back. It was tough navigating through the phase of doubt and uncertainty regarding the project.
However, the team stuck together throughout and worked harder to refine our prototype. Eventually, we were able to secure a few stakeholders to collaborate with, and pitched our idea to the panel of judges during the final pitching session. YAC was a gruelling yet rewarding journey and the team is excited to deliver our project to serve the existing needs.
What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?
A challenge faced while working on the YAC project was refining our project idea. The team was constantly questioned about our target audience and if our solution would actually address a real problem. In the face of adversity, the team conducted on-the-ground surveys to validate our problem statement. Then, we secured stakeholders and did trial sessions with our target audience.
Through our efforts, we were able to streamline our project idea. It is still very much a work-in-progress but we are optimistic that we can make it happen.
Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?
Conexa is a community building platform that matches youth to exciting new activities which they can enjoy at a subsidised rate with a focus on improving their mental well-being. It is due to COVID-19 that many youth have decreased social activity and suffered in their mental health. Our project hopes to be an accessible platform for youth, especially vulnerable youth, to meet new friends and take part in new activities.
Conexa also acts as a preventive and early-intervention effort in ensuring good mental well-being of our youth.
Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?
Throughout my time with YAC, I feel that I was questioned a lot by our experienced mentors. However, it was through all these questions that I realised that if there is something that I am really passionate about, it can come true as long as I stay focused and determined. It does not matter if we fail—it is how we learn from our mistakes that matter.
If I was doing YAC alone, I highly doubt my ability to overcome all the adversity. However, I was thankful to meet like-minded individuals in the team and to have journeyed together with them through YAC. This is best illustrated with a quote by Hellen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”