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.

Charlene Ong Hui Fen, 23, is currently a final year student at Singapore Management University doing a double degree in Business Management and Information Systems. She worked with a group of friends on a project during the Season 3 edition of YAC: KAKI, the “Google” for seniors on all things regarding smartphones and their applications.

They aim to be a digital learning companion for seniors to pick up essential smartphone skills without the need to continuously head down to physical centers for help. This ensures 24/7 support and boosts their confidence in using applications that are becoming ever more necessary in the continuously digitally advancing world. Today she shares more about the project!

What was your role within your YAC project?

I worked on the ideation and brainstorming with the KAKI team, ensured that the team was kept on track, and focused on the UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) aspects of KAKI. I was also the person who pulled the team together and later spotted a real-life problem which we then tackled.

What motivated you to join YAC?

Having always been interested in solving problems for people, I saw YAC as the perfect opportunity to do what I have always wanted to do in a way that could positively impact many others. YAC also seemed like a program with a strong foundation and structure, which I believed would have helped push us further with our project.

Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?

The overall experience with YAC has definitely been a positive one. Being able to learn important tips and tricks from the mentors and various workshops helped to ensure that we were on the right track. To be able to start from observing an issue in society to creating a solution that has gotten others interested is something that I feel proud of. Furthermore, this experience has allowed me to work closely with my good friends which made the overall journey a much more enjoyable one.

What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?

One of the challenges we initially faced in the project was feeling like imposters in the pool of YAC participants. When we had the chance to listen to others sharing about their developed projects, we felt like we were out of place. However, we were able to reassure ourselves that though we might not have the expertise at that point, we would be able to do something amazing as well after going through the YAC program.

Another challenge we faced was trying to get more seniors to speak to. As we are all students, we were limited to our grandparents and their friends. However, we understood that this would have been a pretty skewed representation of the seniors in Singapore and that we needed to speak to more seniors. Thankfully, through the various chat groups in the programme, we managed to get a few contacts that worked closely with senior centers throughout Singapore, where we finally had the opportunity to talk to the audience we needed to talk to.

Lastly, one slightly more unique challenge our team had faced was the fact that more than half our team went on exchange halfway through the project. We had to manage the 13-hour time zone differences and had to re-delegate the tasks to ensure that we could still complete what we needed to do on time, with our manpower divided between Singapore and Canada. Though challenging, it was a pretty fun and interesting experience.

Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?

While our project has not launched yet, we are able to see the potential positive impact after talking to various seniors and getting them to test out our initial prototypes. Hopefully, our project can help improve the daily lives of seniors by boosting their confidence in using mobile applications.

Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?

One key takeaway from my time with YAC is to be unafraid in reaching out to others who may have the connections that you need. Our team had issues in talking to enough of our target audience, and it was through YAC that we managed to meet like-minded people who helped us achieve our goal in talking to more seniors. If we had remained too shy and did not reach out to these key contacts, I don’t think we would have been able to validate our project well.

This article was published on Apr 26, 2022

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