On the morning of 30th November 2019, a group of preschoolers from Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool staged a rousing drum performance to kick-start the launch and open day of the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre. Members of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, grassroots leaders, leaders of various organisations as well as Tzu Chi volunteers from Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia were present to grace the special event.
“Three, two, one!”
After a countdown of three, members of Tzu Chi’s management team, together with Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K. Shanmugam, MPs for Nee Soon GRC, Dr Lee Bee Wah and Mr Henry Kwek, and Chairman of Chong Pang CCC, Mr Teo Choon Hoc, officially launched the Humanistic Youth Centre.
Jointly build a platform for youths
“The spirit and philosophy of the Youth Centre are evident from the time you enter into it. When people here speak with each other, their faces are radiant, happy, and full of love and compassion. So there is a lot of inner beauty here,” said Mr Shanmugam.
The minister strongly believes that Tzu Chi’s humanistic culture, which encompasses the spirit of Great Love, is what all of humanity hopes to attain, and that this is also what Singapore and the rest of the world hope to develop.
He added that the Youth Centre allows young people to engage in activities in a comfortable and conducive environment while also offers a wide range of programmes and classes catered for the younger generations. He also believes that the establishment of the Youth Centre is in line with the government’s future plans and hopes that this will help “develop Nee Soon into a wonderful place” for residents.
In his opening speech, the CEO of Tzu Chi Singapore said, “Young people are the future pillars of our nation, and Tzu Chi Singapore places a strong emphasis on nurturing the younger generations. The Humanistic Youth Centre is a new venture; we would like to thank the government and all our partners for their help and support in building this platform for youths.”
He hopes that the Youth Centre, with its varied programmes and activities offered by its partnering organisations, can nurture generation after generation of youths replete with the wholesome values of gratitude, respect and love.
On this day, Tzu Chi Singapore also signed an MOU with Nee Soon GRC to work together to offer various programmes and activities that allow young people opportunities to contribute to the society.
Chairman of Nee Soon’s Chong Pang CCC, Mr Teo Choon Hoc, who represented the GRC in signing the MOU, said that all residents, young and old, are welcome to visit the Youth Centre to relax and settle their minds. He quipped that, although he is no longer young, coming to the Youth Centre makes him “feel young”.
“Many youngsters prefer to stay at home and go online instead of getting in touch with the real world. When they don’t personally interact with people much, they will stay distanced from each other,” said Teo.
He is confident that youths will be drawn to the Youth Centre, where they will have more opportunities to connect with each other and enhance their interpersonal skills.
Visitors enjoy interesting and meaningful hands-on activities
Booths were set up at the Youth Centre, which displayed exhibits related to environmentalism. In addition, the Centre’s partners, including 3P Communtiy Art Lab, Circular Asia, and OneMaker Group, held workshops that offered hands-on activities to visitors.
A Youth Corps Singapore staff was very touched by the efforts of Tzu Chi volunteers. She shared, “During lunch, the volunteers offered me water a few times. Young people need to learn to show such care and love to others, then our society will be filled with love and inclusiveness.”
She added that the centre is a very conducive place for students to study.
A youth, Venus Wang, who was attracted by the centre’s beautiful environment, came with her grandfather, grandmother and some friends on this day. Her grandfather was all praises for the comprehensive facilities that the centre offers and encouraged his granddaughter to come here more often to connect with positive people.
Venus took part in an activity held by 3P Community Art Lab a few days before. “When I first started making recycled paper at the workshop, it kept tearing, which made me feel tired. But the teacher patiently guided me along, and this made me feel very good. So eventually, I made more paper and found it really fun!”
She hopes to be part of the Youth Centre in future and join the ranks of volunteers there.
Founder of 3P Community Arts Lab Lin Shiyun shared that her philosophy is in line with that of Tzu Chi. She chose to collaborate with Tzu Chi in the hope of creating a space where people can connect with each other and do self-reflection after interacting with others. She, too, thinks that some youngsters lack good social skills as they spend too much time on electronic devices and gadgets.
Lin hopes that as people learn to make craft items together at the Arts Lab, they can connect more closely with Nature as well as communicate and reconnect with each other.
“Children nowadays often spend time on smartphones. We hope that besides playing computer games, they can also participate in meaningful activities,” said a father, who brought his two daughters to the Youth Centre. He joined an activity held by OneMaker Group together with his children, with the hope that they could settle down and learn something instead of going shopping.
The Youth Centre is a new venture by Tzu Chi Singapore and invites grassroots and partnering organisations to station there and jointly build a wholesome youth platform.
“For YOUth by Youth”, the slogan of the Youth Centre highlights youths as the core group it is serving. “YOUth” encompasses the twofold meaning of “Youths” and “You”. Tzu Chi hopes that every youth who steps into the Youth Centre is an independent individual who can make good use of the various spaces to develop humanistic values, connect with others, and help build a sustainable society.
Situated near to the idyllic Yishun Pond and FustalArena@Yishun, the Youth Centre adopts an open concept that allows it to blend in with its natural surroundings, providing a respite for city dwellers with busy lifestyles. It has a 195 sq m public reading area, co-working spaces, Chat Rooms, multipurpose hall and classrooms. Currently, it collaborates with different partners to offer various classes, such as Pilates, maker education, sustainability workshops, etc. that appeal to younger generations.