By GURPREET SINGH
There is a common understanding that the young people of today form a steady stream of tomorrow’s leaders, the backbone of a nation. Holding that thought close at hand, more and more young people are no longer merely the leaders of tomorrow, they are increasingly the change makers of today.
With this, and the potential for more youth to be the difference makers of today in mind, Leaderonomics, along with HELP International School and HELP University held a two-part event called the M.A.D. (Making a Difference) Youth Leadership Summit to achieve four objectives. These were:
- Inspiring youth to be strong advocates of change.
- To intentionally provide the youth with experiences to develop leadership skills early on in life.
- To enable youth to foster a strong support network of like-minded individuals.
- To empower the youth to make a difference in their community and to know the power of extending outside of themselves.
The event culminated with a challenge thrown to the youth encouraging them to make a difference within three specific streams – environment, inequality and poverty.
Having gone through multiple proposals, 12 groups were invited back to pitch out their ideas in response to the challenge, in an attempt to secure funding by generous sponsors.
These include Yayasan Hasanah, a sister entity of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, focused on bringing about a sustainable Malaysia, driven by empowered and inclusive communities; and Iskandar Investment Bhd, a strategic developer with a rich history of community building through education and meaningful engagement with underserved children.
The Pitch Out event brought to the fore many ideas addressing the most pertinent issues we are faced with as a nation today. The most notable M.A.D. Projects that secured funding include:
1) Meeting Invisible
Being the first project to pitch, Meeting Invisible did not fail to impress in making a strong statement with an exciting and bold proposal emphasising and addressing the status of inequality in our nation.
Given the strength in racial diversity in Malaysia, and noticing an apparent divide and growing social segregation, Meeting Invisible proposed the interaction of youths from various ethnic backgrounds, over a meal, under the wrap of a blindfold, to prevent any preconceived prejudices.
With the gift of sight temporarily suppressed to withhold the natural propensity to judge superficially, this project hopes to highlight similarities we share as people with the intention to weave a common thread across all races and cultures and to tie them together securely in the bond of unity and peace.
This initiative intends to foster a greater appreciation of that which binds us together as a people, and induce a greater recognition and celebration of that which sets us apart.
Sponsorship Amount Obtained: RM2,000 + Goodie Bag from Petrosains
2) Poverty Project
The Poverty Project group are based out of Taiping, Perak. Despite not being able to attend the Pitch Out in person due to logistical limitations, the group of four voiced their intention to pitch their idea via Skype, stressing their ardent desire to make a difference.
Their proposal touches on the need for privileged teenagers to grow a deeper understanding and empathy for the poor by experiencing poverty for themselves, first-hand.
This is achieved by selecting a group of 25 teenagers to be a part of a two-day camp in a beautiful village in Kuala Sepetang, Perak during the first school holiday window in 2018.
During this camp, participants will be given basic lodging and RM5 to sustain themselves without any food or water provided. To ensure survival, participants must interact with the villagers and work together with them to secure their meals.
This project aims to also elevate the level of awareness among youth on the plight of the poor in order to galvanise them into action and to reduce poverty in Malaysia.
Sponsorship Amount Obtained: RM2,500 + Breakout Vouchers
3) Enzyme Esperanza
Noting that consumers spend a lot of money on cleaning supplies that are biologically and chemically engineered and cause harm to the environment, Enzyme Esperanza proposed a natural and cost-effective solution to the problem.
In a simple yet insightful solution, combining ingredients that normally go into wastes, such as fruit peels and plastic bottles, with household items like brown sugar and water, a cleaning enzyme can be produced.
This solution can be used to clean floors, tables, windows, and even wash clothes, all in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.
The simplicity of the solution pitched by the group was also intended to assert the importance of little ones that build up into larger steps over a period of time, both in terms of savings monetarily and ecologically.
Sponsorship Amount Obtained: RM500 + Breakout Vouchers
4) SEED M.A.D. Agents
The SEED M.A.D. Agents sought to rectify a common challenge faced by Orang Asli communities in Malaysia – the supply of clean water, or the lack thereof.
Currently, villages have to travel great distances to obtain water. To make matters worse, the water obtained is unfiltered, unhygienic and brings about a myriad of health issues that have persistently caused great distress among the communities.
With the use of simple tools and incorporation of contemporary and basic technology, Orang Asli villages can obtain a supply of clean water for their everyday use.
Along with this ground level initiative and to ensure the sustainability of the project, the SEED M.A.D. Agents also expect to educate the Orang Asli communities about clean water and hygiene, train them on the maintenance and handling of the system, as well as to encourage them to replicate the system provided to other surrounding villages.
Sponsorship Amount Obtained: RM10,000 + Goodie Bag from Petrosains
5) Urban Wildlife Rescue
Deforestation is rampant in Malaysia and is an issue close to the hearts of the duo that form the Urban Wildlife Rescue Group.
With massive and abrupt development gripping the forested regions of our country, there is a need to not just raise awareness on the effects of urbanisation on wildlife, but also to build and grow a society of young people that are aware and compassionate in sustaining the environment and supporting green initiatives.
With highly fragmented forests slowly becoming the norm, the project aims to achieve, as its primary objective, the building of bio-bridges that will enable animals marginalised as a result of the deforestation, to cross over the roadways to the other side of the forest safely.
Seed Funding Obtained: RM2,000 to continue research + Goodie Bags from Petrosains
6) Being comfortable in your own skin
One of the most intrinsic and important human needs is to be comfortable in your own skin, expressed a group member in her opening statement during the pitch out.
Society ought not to be the narrator that dictates the activities youth choose, simply on the grounds that certain activities, for example playing football, are perceived to be more masculine.
As a means to escape this entrapment, students within this group proposed a one-day experiment where boys and girls exchange lives and dress in the opposite gender with the objective of raising awareness that both genders are equal.
A girl can choose to play football just as boys can choose to do ballet.
To further entrench the point, the experiences of the participants and their feedback will be recorded, and this video will thereafter be used to promote their gender inequality campaign.
Sponsorship Amount Obtained: RM5,000 + Breakout Vouchers + Video covered by Leaderonomics Media
Gurpreet is the Partnership Lead for Leaderonomics Youth. He is tasked with developing relationships with current and potential clients, identifying synergies, and capturing opportunities for mutual benefit. In his leisure time, he enjoys watching movies, reading, and intellectually stimulating conversations preferably over a cup of coffee. Get in touch with him by emailing email@example.com.