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Opening Address for Mr Eric Chua Senior Parliamentary Secretary at the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) Giving Gala 2023

Type: Official Speeches (All), Official Speeches: Eric Chua,

Topic(s): Rehabilitation, Disability Services, Social Service Agencies & Partners,


Mr Tony Soh, President, YMCA of Singapore

Distinguished Guests,

YMCA’s youth and parents


Good evening. It is my pleasure to join you here this evening at the YMCA’s Giving Gala 2023.

Celebrating the Achievements of YMCA and Our Youth

2       Tonight, we come together to celebrate the achievements of our youth and to recognise the efforts by YMCA in empowering and developing youth to reach their fullest potential. On behalf of both my ministries, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), I would like to express my thanks to social sector partners like YMCA which run many ground-up programmes to cater to the needs of our youth.  

3       YMCA in Singapore has a rich history dating back to 1902. The YMCA has a mission that aims to develop individuals in body, mind and spirit and to foster a spirit of service to the larger community. Its services have been wide-ranging and expanded to cover support for youth with special needs, and helping out-of-school youth and youth-at-risk. Let me speak briefly about these two areas.

Building a Caring and Inclusive Society

4       We thank YMCA for championing and advocating for an Inclusive Society in Singapore. Persons with special needs are integral members of society. With some support and encouragement, they can live Enabled and Empowered Lives. Youth with special needs have benefited from YMCA’s arts, sports, and employment training programme. Allow me to share one example of a YMCA’s programme that cater to youth with special needs – the YMCA Inclusive Climb!

5       In August this year, a group of 10 Special Needs youth conquered Japan’s tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji, as part of YMCA’s Special Needs Inclusive Challenge. To prepare for the climb, YMCA trained the 10 members for weeks, conquering countless stairs and hiking trails. They built confidence and resilience, and achieved this feat they never imagined possible. I would like to invite the Special Needs Mount Fuji climbers who are here tonight to rise. Let us give them a round of applause for their determination and outstanding achievement!

6       Another programme worthy of mention is YMCA’s Vocational and Soft Skills Programme. This programme started in 2011. It is a 6-month vocational training programme that equips youth-at-risk and youth who had committed offences with vocational skills in an industry they may be interested in. Over six months, YMCA’s dedicated team of social workers work alongside these youth to provide them with emotional and social support to get them ready for work. Following the programme, participants could decide if they would like to pursue employment, or to further their studies. 

7       More than 800 youth have completed the VaSSP programme. Approximately 70% of them were employed or went on to pursue further education. Since May 2022, 84 youth who were MSF clients (some undergoing diversionary programmes or probation, others were residents of Singapore Girls’/Boys’ Home) have attended the programme. These youth have resolved to overcome obstacles, break the cycle of offending and become better versions of themselves.  

Support of Donors, Community and Families

8       One key ingredients of the success stories of YMCA's programmes is the unwavering support from its generous sponsors and donors. They have contributed their money, resources and time, and this is something that we should laud and continue to encourage. Thank you very much for your generosity! 

9       I would also like to thank the parents and caregivers who are here with us today. All of you play an important role in being our youth’s pillar of support, and contributing to their success. Strong families are the bedrock of our society, and this is something we should treasure and protect.   

Conclusion

10     MSF has designated 2023 as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners. Community partners such as YMCA and their supporters play an important role in working with the government to support our youths to maximise their potential and thrive as contributing members of society.

11     Thank you for your good work so far, and for your continuing commitment to serving our community and our youth. I wish you the very best in all your future endeavours.