President Tony Tan: ‘Youths are the Future’

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Speech by President Tony Tan at the Heartware Network 17th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Monday, 3 July 2017, 7.30 pm at the Grand Mandarin Ballroom, Mandarin Orchard Singapore

Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee and Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Advisors, Heartware Network

Bill Foo, Chairman, Heartware Network

Partners, volunteers and friends of Heartware Network

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

Thank you for being here this evening to support Heartware Network’s 17th Anniversary Gala dinner 2017.

We often said youths are the future, our hope and leaders of tomorrow. Young people are the driving force of change; the next generation to carry on the legacy and to lead society.

While we train their minds, we should not turn our sights away from helping youths with character development. This strikes at the core of Heartware Network’s mission. I am heartened to learn that Singapore has an organisation, committed to shaping our youths to become confident and resilient leaders, and community champions.

In the past 17 years, many initiatives have been introduced by Heartware Network to help our youths develop to their fullest potential. In particular, the Heartware Network’s Youthbank volunteer management system is an initiative that focuses on developing our youths’ compassion and empathy. Just like a bank, Youthbank allows youths to ‘deposit’ their Heart hours, or volunteering hours. This not only allows youths to build on their “volunteering bank account” but also allows schools to track their history. In just three years, Heartware Network has worked with 155 schools and 14 community partners for the programmes they have. To date, 3,728 youth volunteers have received Heartware training, contributing to 230,409 volunteering hours (9,600 days).

Heartware Network also fosters an inclusive and caring society by encouraging our youth to help others in need. Through Heartware Network’s Support Our Pioneers Programme, youth volunteers provide socio-emotional support to the elderly through be-friending initiatives such as bi-monthly visitations and activities. These youths learn to build up their compassion and empathy for the elderly and also show their appreciation towards those who have helped to build Singapore into who we are today.

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Support Our Pioneers is an elderly-centric programme that focuses on bi-monthly visitations to the elderly’s houses in mature estates. 

The work that the volunteers do go beyond assisting the elderly. A group of students from Raffles Institution (Junior College) started a pilot tuition programme in 2009 to reach out to underprivileged primary school students. I am happy to note that in the last three years, the pool of tutors have grown to include those from Junior colleges, Integrated Programme (IP) Schools and Universities. In just three years, its 240 tutors have coached 478 primary school students.

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The  Tuition Programme, initially started by a group of Raffles Institution students, now enjoys a a growing pool of volunteer tutors from various institutions. The newest school to come on board for this fulfilling cause is Eunoia JC. 

Heartware Network goes beyond engaging youths to be proactive in serving others with a HEART and develop them into community champions, Heartware Network also develops youths to be resilient. As we train our youths with hard skills, it is even more critical to equip them with lifeskills.

EXPLORE NEW OPPORTUNITIES

I would also like to encourage our youths to venture out and have an enterprising spirit to try out new ideas and opportunities. Never worry if you fail. Pick yourself up and try again. This is the spirit we need to inculcate in our youths because it is with resilience that we can bring Singapore to the next level in the world-stage.

Youth Business Singapore (YBS), a programme by Heartware Network, has partnered with Courts Asia Limited to provide start-up funding for youth entrepreneurs. This platform also provides mentoring and networking opportunities in 46 countries and is a springboard for our start-ups to venture overseas. I am pleased that Courts Asia has set aside $1milion to provide micro-financing to young entrepreneurs.

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Mr Edwin Yeo is a Youth Business Singapore entrepreneur since 2009, and the managing director and founder of Opcon Pte Ltd. 

One of the young entrepreneurs, Edwin Yeo, Managing Director & Founder of Opcon Ptd Ltd, is a beneficiary of YBS. Opcon Ptd Ltd offers the maritime industry with unique and innovative underwater products like Black Ace™ and Clear Vision Technology. Despite having faced many setbacks in the early days, Edwin continued to persevere and saw opportunities to further improve his products. With Bill Foo as mentor, Edwin was able to bring his products to market. Today, his products have attracted many clients, including those from the defence industry, and are sold in countries such as Saudi Arabia.

CONCLUSION

Ladies and gentlemen, everyone plays an important role in our society. It is the duty of every member of society to actively participate in the strengthening of our community. Singapore’s future lies with our youths. Let us continue on this mission to engage, mentor and involve them so they can meaningfully contribute to Singapore, and grow into inspiring leaders.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to everyone present here today, for your generous support to Heartware Network.

Thank you and have an enjoyable evening.