Being at a Disadvantage
When it comes to the topic of youth-at-risk or disadvantaged youth, what’s the first thought that comes to mind?
I want to help.
After all, to be “disadvantaged”, doesn’t it mean to need help?
Another question that should come to mind is: Is that all there is to disadvantaged youths, to just need help?
The ironic thing in our society is that we have a soft spot for these youth when they need help but reject them when they want to help.
On a whole, employers don’t think much about these disadvantaged youth, because there is still a stigma about their backgrounds. For example, a person on the autism spectrum is thought to be unpredictable and not as efficient as someone who is not on the spectrum, or that a degree holder is a more capable worker than a secondary school dropout.
However, those of us who have worked with or interacted with people like that know that this isn’t entirely true.
Before we talk about the stigma surrounding disadvantaged youth and whether it’s true or untrue, let’s breakdown what it actually means to be disadvantaged.
According to Cambridge Dictionary being disadvantaged means to “not having the standard of living conditions, education, etc. that most people have.”
There are different types of disadvantages, such as socioeconomic disadvantage, mental and physical disadvantage. The different disadvantages provide challenges to these youth in different ways such as not having access to the best resources and or limitations to cognitive function and skills etcetera.
This is great news!
Despite the success stories, the stigma surrounding youth with disadvantaged backgrounds is still prevalent in Singapore. Therefore to debunk the stigma we need our society to truly see that these youth are just as capable as mainstream youth.
When we think of the art scene in Singapore, it is a place that many of us dreamed to be a part of but don’t always pursue. This is because we are convinced that it is not where we can find a stable source of income, but is that true?
Even in our cosmopolitan and ever-evolving city, pursuing a career in art is a non-traditional approach that can prove to be more difficult than pursuing a career in science.
Music production, theatre and cooking, a lot of times classes in these fields tend to be more expensive, hindering some youth from reaching their full potential. This is unfortunate as many talented and motivated youth are further deterred from pursuing a career in the arts.
According to a study done by Beyond Social Services on 30 of their beneficiaries, it was highlighted in the in-depth interviews that there was some sort of aspiration for a better life, but it was followed-through in different ways. Two participants took charge of their lives, helping themselves for better job opportunities and their children in pursuing education. Another participant went to seek counselling while in prison and volunteered with Beyond to spread his story in the hopes of helping “young minds”.
So putting two and two together, we want to prove that disadvantaged youth are more motivated and capable than society dictates while proving that youth can make a living following their dreams.
This is why here at The Hidden Good, we partnered with the National Youth Council to help disadvantaged youth make something of their passion, that they can possibly earn a living with where their passions lie.
This program is called TalentSpark.
For this programme, three youths were selected by The Hidden Good and trained by professionals in their respective fields. The training process was carried out from August to October with one-on-one sessions between the mentors and mentees.
They would be trained in their talents to help them gain confidence in what they do and to teach them how to be mentors themselves. This is because, after all of their training, these youth would go on to have program sessions to mentor others, in which other youth and members of the public would participate in.
One of our youths, Iyad has been an active volunteer in the community and would be trained by Stuart, who is both the resident fight choreographer and Lecturer of the module at Lasalle College of the Arts. He would then be teaching about how to be confident on stage and about theatrical performance.
Whereas Samantha who is working under The Hidden Good would be trained by Frank who has been cooking since young and had previously worked in a cafe cum restaurant called Necessary Provisions. She would be teaching how to cook dumplings from scratch.
While, Qamarul Arifin Bin Abdul Azmi (also known as Q) is currently working in a kitchen at a neighbourhood cafe and has been doing his own musical projects in his free time. He, in turn, would be trained by Lester, who is a DJ also known as DJ Sirkid. Q would go on to teach about composing house Music, mashing up some songs and giving them tips and tricks on Logic Pro.
In the hopes of this program impacting the lives of these youth as well as other youth, The Hidden Good had documented the journeys of these three youths. This is to show how much they have improved and grown and to inspire other youth to follow their passion and to realize their own potential.
Come & Join us!
If you are curious to know about how much Iyad, Samantha and Q have learnt, then do catch them on their sessions where you will get to learn things about theatre, music composition and cooking from them firsthand!
Their mentors would have guided them throughout the process so rest assured, what you will learn will be as credible as what you would learn in a professional class without the cost and with the added knowledge of your mentor’s background and journey!
The classes would be on these dates: 10th October 2019 and you can sign up here: http://bit.ly/talentspark2019 !
We will look forward to seeing you there!
This project is powered by the National Youth Council (NYC).