Five very different youths took 3 days out of work and school, responding to the Outward Bound Singapore’s (OBS) call for volunteers to enable 10 other youths with special needs to go Outward Bound.
The diverse youth volunteers ranged from a 14-year-old student who had been encouraged by his mother to volunteer to a 26-year-old personal gym trainer. Starting as “givers”, the volunteers soon discovered how they had also grown personally as “receivers” from the meaningful interaction.
The 3-day camp was customised by OBS for youths with various intellectual and physical disabilities from the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA).
Held from Mar 20 to 22, 2013, the programme included nature treks, high rope courses, maze-ing and water activities on the OBS Pulau Ubin and East Coast campuses.
Youth volunteer and two-time OBS programme participant, 19-year-old student Leow Hui Xuan, gave the priceless gift of trust to a beneficiary with a phobia of water and boat rides.
After spending half an hour coaxing 17-year-old Narisha Kaur Chahal, Hui Xuan finally enabled her to trust the care of her befrienders and the natural elements.
She soon gained enough confidence to enjoy her first taste of the great outdoors.
In return, Hui Xuan was reminded to appreciate what she already had and could easily do.
Matthew Huang enjoying the sandwiches he made together with his new friend Melker Tay.
She also felt a sense of satisfaction in helping Narisha overcome her fears. “I was able to do it because of the trust we have built up in this short period of time.”
Another youth volunteer, 26-year-old personal gym trainer Melker Tay who had attended an OBS South Africa programme herself in 2010, had to take time off from work to commit to the three days but felt that it was “all worth it” as she was able to “combine both interests in the outdoor adventure and volunteering”.
23-year-old financial consultant, Sim So Han, shared how working with the special needs youths enhanced his communication skills which was would help him relate better to others at work.
The youngest of the youth volunteers, 14-year-old Kitson Low, gushed about how he would not have exchanged this volunteer opportunity with OBS for other school holiday activities.
Faizal Nordin, Manager of community engagement programmes, was heartened by how generously the youth volunteers had given their time and energy.
Volunteers Sim So Han and Leow Hui Xuan supporting Andy Wong during the water activity.
He said, “The volunteers have really given the youths with special needs an experience that would not have been possible in an indoor setting. We should encourage more youths to help empower others with trust and confidence through such outdoor experiential learning opportunities.”