VOX @ Children's Society
How do we create and build meaningful spaces to impact youth within the community?
In the east of Singapore, a group of social workers and counsellors come together five days a week to listen, engage and connect youth within the community.
Modelled and designed after polling the youth for their opinions, the youth drop-in centre called VOX @ Children’s Society in Chai Chee is a warm and inclusive space. Developmental programmes, interest groups and targeted projects are put in place to engage youth. With the aim of value-adding and inspiring youth, a variety of activities — from gymnastics and football to music and community outreach projects, are carried out.
Guided and grounded by the Positive Youth Development Framework to reach out to youth aged between 13 and 18 years old, the centre emphasises on 5Cs — Caring, Character, Competence, Confidence and Connection. Social workers and youth workers continuously reach out to youth, to build rapport, collaborate, and engage them through activities and programmes.
- 1. What does it mean to listen to the voices of the youth?
The word ‘VOX’ means ‘voice’ in Latin. Project Vantage is an initiative to help youth launch different interest groups. From drafting proposals and seeking resources to seeing through project executions, the youth take autonomy in kick-starting projects. Social workers and youth workers develop long-term involvement and engagement by supporting, facilitating and structuring such initiatives. An enabling environment is created where the youth’s strengths are tapped on to, connecting them to meaningful engagements. For example, with gymnastics as an interest point, VOX @ Children’s Society collaborated with a gymnastics school to have youth participate in weekly classes, and thereafter progressed to become assistant youth coaches to children.
To cultivate a culture of giving, community projects are carried out to impact others in the community. In one of the initiatives, GoodLife Makan programme, youth cooked laksa and invited the elderly residents who lived nearby to enjoy the food.
2. How do we help the youth?
Through shared activities that focuses on reaching out to youth and reducing at-risk behaviours, social workers and youth workers build rapport by engaging in casual and non-intrusive conversations. This opens up an avenue for social workers to assess the strength and needs of youth. The assessments help social workers understand and decide on a targeted approach towards the youth. For youth with no presenting issues, they will be engaged with developmental programmes of Project Vantage as mentioned above. Youth with presenting issues will be engaged with rehabilitative work through casework and counselling, some presenting issues include conflict management, truancy, self-harm, drugs, theft, underage sex, and employment. The centre works collaboratively with community partners in the neighbourhood — schools, family service centres and Grassroot Leaders (GRLs) for a more holistic support.
In 2018, the centre has seen the progress and engagement of 396 youth members, with an average of 548 visits each month.
Having a place where youth can gather to express themselves, be heard, build friendships, and be a part of a larger community goes a long way in empowering youth. Funds raised from this campaign will go directly to VOX @ Children’s Society and support the long-term involvement and strategies for youth in the heart of Chai Chee.By: Singapore Children's Society