Uni-Y 2020: A Community Serving Communities
For 15 years, University YMCA has been a student-led service club striving to change the world, one campus at a time. Amidst the chaos of deadlines, submissions and presentations, how does it continue bringing a positive impact to the people around them? Why do people dedicate their time into the club, even while juggling part-time jobs, internships, and their social and familial obligations?
According to experts, more than 75% of mental health conditions begin before the age of 24, which makes support in colleges and universities vital. The 15-year legacy of “a community serving communities” means that at Uni-Y, we support one another – and we will do our best to support you.
The Uni-Y Culture: Building a Safe Space
Beyond its programmes, culture is key in differentiating one student club from another. When we ask our volunteers why they choose to be a part of Uni-Y, their common answers include “the culture”, “the people”, “I click well here” and “here, I find people I can do life with”.
What sets Uni-Y apart and how did we become the close-knitted community we are today?
Uni-Y Leaders: Our Changemakers
A critical factor for our success is our people – the successive generations of Executive Committees, which chart the direction for the club’s development. They lend their gifts, talents and influence to bring Uni-Y’s vision into reality. Uni-Y takes its leadership very seriously – making sure they are good and powerful influencers who can hand and take over responsibilities well. They are leaders with a heart to nurture and journey alongside fellow students in volunteering and impacting those around them. These leaders go through various training and upskilling course and programmes to ensure they stay relevant and can impart useful knowledge to its members.
Beyond being a service club, Uni-Y leaders and volunteers strongly emphasise on building its community. Both its leaders and members strive to create a culture of trust and a safe space where volunteers can be themselves and share their lives with one another.
The relationships between members go beyond small talk. They wish to truly understand one another and to support and journey alongside each other. It is not only in our programmes that we are interested in and committed to, but the people who make them happen as well.
Uni-Y Volunteers: Our Heartbeat
At Uni-Y, we do not do things simply to get them over with. We put in our best and learn how we can do even better the next time. After each community service session, leaders and members engage in meaningful debrief sessions to reflect and draw out learning points from each experience. This has also created a culture of open dialogue, where volunteers feel safe to express themselves and to learn from and with one another.
Our volunteers ultimately become our ambassadors. In Forbes’ article, “Not-So-Simple Secrets of Successful Culture Change”, it is said that to create and sustain organisational change that is truly transformational requires effort from more than a single person. Open dialogues help create a spark in people to step up and get involved with driving change together – building momentum and inspiring each other to become even better versions of what they could be.
Uni-Y Programmes: Leveraging on our Culture
This focus on youth development extends beyond its members, but to local and international communities. Over the years, there has been an increasing need to provide support to youth, especially in the area of mental wellness. Uni-Y’s strong community culture enables it to do precisely that – to support our volunteers, who reach out to those around them.
Beyond the plethora of local and international community service programmes we regularly execute, we leverage on our safe space to offer personal and leadership development programmes to develop youth.
An example of such a platform is The YMCA Conversation Series. In 2019, 70 students across four universities came together to engage in dialogue with health professionals on how we can better support our loved ones, who may be struggling with mental health difficulties. It was a heart-warming session where participants, including those who have overcome their own mental health conditions, came forward to share their stories. The event was featured on The Straits Times, Channel 8 News and Shin Min Daily News.
Uni-Y 2020: Onward and Upward
In 2020, we hope to delve deeper into the field of mental wellness, to equip youths to better support their peers who are going through tough times and to raise awareness about this important topic.
Beyond the work that we do, building a firm foundation should apply to our personal lives too. We hope to continue building a strong community, which serves as a support system for those who journey with us. Our Executive Committees will take on the role of mentors whole-heartedly. We are also looking into providing opportunities for members and alumni both to provide and receive support beyond the campus into their workplace, such as through The Tamarisk Initiative.
While we continue to strive to become a pillar of support for those in need, we will continue to build upon the roots that keep us strong and tall. We look forward to another year of serving with you!
Find out more about Uni-Y here.