Uplifting Young Hearts, One at a Time

Nine-year-old Winston Lee* and Elyana Dawood*, 11, regularly attend tuition classes and outings organised by the Singapore Red Cross Young Hearts programme. These tuition classes have improved their grades and given them a boost of confidence. The activities have also enabled them to bond and enjoy the companionship of their friends. Despite the challenges they face in life, they maintain a cheerful disposition with the help of Young Hearts and its volunteers such as Aiman to overcome challenges, one at a time.

Grappling with Challenges at Home and in School

Elyana Dawood*, 11, who is currently in primary school, faces a myriad of problems ranging from family issues, poor grades in school and challenges dealing with her friends. 

“My family has eight family members and we stay in a rental flat. Sometimes I find it difficult to sleep as I alternate between sleeping on the floor and sleeping in the bedroom,” she said.

Naturally, her living situation makes it hard for Elyana to focus on her studies. “In school, my results are not very good. I obtained a D grade for one of my tests," Elyana added. “My friends also said hurtful things but I did not tell the teacher.”

On her own, Elyana could not find solutions for these challenges.

Improved Grades, Thanks to the Young Hearts programme 

Since enrolling in the Young Hearts programme in May 2022, Elyana's grades have improved.

"The tuition provided by the Young Hearts programme has helped me improve my Science and Mother Tongue grades, and made me a more responsible person. Thank you for tutoring us in your free time. Without the tuition I would not know how to study on my own," she said. 

Elyana is now more confident about her future. 

“My dream is to improve my school results and do well for PSLE," shared Elyana.

Preparing Children for their Future
Besides improving children's grades through education, the Young Hearts programme adopts a multi-pronged strategy which also focuses on mentorship, enrichment and excursions. To uplift the lives of the children, the volunteers and employees plan and implement activities and initiatives encapsulated by the 'PREPARE' acronym. 

  • Providing nutritious meals to the students before the commencement of the tuition class to ensure their holistic well-being 
  • Rolling out education, mentorship, enrichment and excursion opportunities to ‘level up’ the children’s cognitive and social capabilities. Mentors provide guidance to the children while focusing on positive character development. 
  • Encouraging social interactions among children during classes and outings. These efforts broaden the exposure of the children, build the camaraderie and forge close friendships, while enhancing the children's interpersonal skills. 
  • Partnering with organisations such as Byte.sg, SportsSG, Tertiary institutions such as NUS, Closetful of Books and kidsREAD, KidsExcel, Health Promotion Board
  • Allowing children a space to learn and grow from each other during classes, outings, and sports.
  • Recognising children’s achievements (academic and social) with encouragements and treats (e.g. snacks)
  • Educating the children through the recruitment of experienced MOE-trained teachers who plan and develop the tuition framework and syllabus, which adheres to the MOE curriculum. This enables the students to refresh and practise what they learnt in school. 

Elyana enjoyed the excursions as they provide a welcome change from the life at home. 

"I enjoy the outings, such as the recent trip to Universal Studios Singapore. Without the Young Hearts Programme, I would have spent my free time wandering around the corridor, the playground, or  care for my siblings at home. Thank you for spending time with us and for dipping into your own pockets to bring us out on outings,” said Elyana.

Collectively, the Young Hearts programme strategically promotes academic and social mobility for children hailing from economically challenged families. This levels the playing field for the children while providing them with the opportunities to advance in life. 

Forging Friendships at Young Hearts

Another child, Winston Lee*, aged nine, who comes from a family of five, also benefits from the Young Hearts programme since enrolling in it since November 2020. He shared that his parents would often quarrel and yell loudly late into the night. 

“I cannot do much when they fight," said Winston.

“The tuition also helped me improve my English grades. I like being at the Young Hearts Centre because I can interact with my friends," shared Winston.

Winston aspires to open a store with his friends to earn income, following in his father's footsteps. 

"I dream of owning and driving an expensive car. When I grow up, I hope to open a store, just like my father. I hope get to know more friends now. Maybe they can join me when I set up a store in future," said Winston, with his eyes glimmering with excitement and a radiant smile on his face. 

Transforming Children's Lives for the Better

Nineteen-year-old Aiman, who has just graduated from National Junior College, is a familiar face among those who regularly volunteer at Young Hearts. 

“I was introduced to Young Hearts through my friend, Imran through his volunteer network. When I required guidance in the past, people stepped forward to help me. Now that I have more free time, it is an opportunity for me to give back to society by helping others in need, academically or to provide guidance,” said Aiman.

For Aiman, volunteering at Young Hearts has been a rewarding experience. 

“Tutoring the kids is rewarding because you become the bridge that enhances their understanding of new concepts. It is nice when I establish links between different concepts and things that they have learnt previously,” said Aiman.

However, Aiman’s journey has not been entirely smooth sailing. 

“One of my key challenges was tutoring some of the children who did not want to study. I can empathise with them as I am also not a fan of studying. Forcing the children to study will merely stoke their rebellious streak. I tried to find other ways to get them to understand that studying enables them to gain more knowledge for their own benefit, not to punish them,” he said.

Aiman continues to volunteer with the Young Hearts programme as he feels the relationships he has built over the past months will continue to blossom.

"I would like to watch the children grow and improve themselves," Aiman said.

He encourages more people to step forward to volunteer with the Young Hearts programme. Volunteers can help the tutors, mentor the children, engage the children in enriching activities and bring the children out on excursions. 

“Not all children come from stable families. By volunteering with the Young Hearts programme, we provide the children with some form of support. I hope more people will volunteer with the Young Hearts Programme and help out whenever they can. No matter how small your actions may seem, showing up consistently once a week will let the children feel that they are cared for. Little by little, we transform the children’s lives for the better,” Aiman said. 

*Names have been changed to protect the children’s identities.

By Sum Chung Wai, Intern
Copyedited by Ruth Lee, Volunteer

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