By STEPHANIE LING
It is that time of the year again when enthusiastic and passionate youths from all over Malaysia can be seen streaming into the Leaderonomics office.
Nervous energy and silent gazes were shared as the youths sized up their fellow participants in the waiting area – little did they know that new friendships would be forged soon after.
If you are wondering what all the buzz was about, it was the SPARK Leadership Challenge that is conducted annually to select deserving youths for our year-end SPARK Camp.
A good start
The SPARK Leadership Challenge was a one-day affair held on Sept 19. Sign-ups tripled in number this year as the event drew in close to 100 people, comprising of over 30 participants, accompanied by their families.
The Leadership Challenge kicked off at 9am and was carried out concurrently across two venues.
The first part of the Leadership Challenge required each participant to give a three-minute elevator pitch to a panel of judges on a problem faced in their school or community, and to suggest ways in which they would fix it.
Participants quickly surrendered their mobile devices and headed on to the quarantine room after receiving well wishes and thumbs ups from their families.
Walking on stage, many were seen fiddling with their fingers or with grave expressions etched on their faces, but all that disappeared as soon as they stood before the judges.
Participants delivered their speeches eloquently enough to inspire the crowd who were gathered, as well as to impress the judges who assessed them on speech content and public speaking skills, as well as interpersonal skills.
Finding their feet
Later in the day in Leadership Challenge 2, participants enjoyed a real world working simulation called Rise and Fall.
This simulation tested their leadership and communication skills, as well as the ability to pull together as a team. This was exciting to watch as it gave the participants the opportunity to apply their skills to a myriad of situations thrown at them.
They could be heard screaming with joy as they completed a task or groaning in frustration as the tables were turned and they had to find ways to adapt and make do with new circumstances.
Sharing in their ups and downs, we witnessed their personalities arise in moments of chaos. Comments from the judges indicated that they were impressed to see the women taking charge in several groups, and to also see everyone stood out in different aspects yet working together cohesively and successfully.
T P Pun, principal of Korn Ferry and a member of the judging panel, said that he felt that the youths used their heads to manage themselves, while they used their hearts to handle the others during the challenges in their own unique ways.
Going the distance
It proved to be a daunting wait for the participants as they waited for the judges to deliberate on their performances across both challenges.
Upon careful consideration and much discussion, the top 17 participants were awarded the coveted golden ticket that would grant them an all-expense paid camp experience. As each name was called, eruption of cheers from parents and squeals from participants could be heard across both venues.
Ear-to-ear grins were plastered on the faces of the golden ticket winners, while exchanges of high fives and hugs were seen all around the room.
When asked how she felt upon hearing her name being called, Ainsley Chan, 14 from SMK Sultan Abdul Samad, said she felt like she was on cloud nine and that she was pretty sure she would not be able to get any sleep, such was the rush of excitement she was feeling.
Overall, the event proved to be a success. All parties shared the sentiment of the SPARK Leadership Challenge having achieved its objectives, and that it was a great platform to provide our youths with exposure to such programmes for personal development.
SPARK will run from Dec 13–19, 2015 at EPSOM College in Malaysia’s state of-the-art premises in Bandar Enstek, Sepang. Malaysian youths aged 13–16 from diverse backgrounds are selected and fully sponsored to participate in this unique opportunity to learn and grow together.