Saturday, August 20

New paradigm needed to engage youths in social activities

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SIBU: A new thought paradigm is required to motivate and engage the youths of today to take up face-to-face interactions, and hence for social organisations to link their activities to the world as youths see it.

Meradong councillor Felician Teo, who expressed this opinion, said providing awards alone may be inconsequential.

“Proposing awards as recognition for youths’ involvement in social activities is one way to rally more young people to get involved in community work and organisations. This is evident in social organisations like JCI, Young Rotarians or the Interact Club and so on.

“However, in the fast changing social landscape, youths are more drawn towards insular activities like accessing the Internet and engaging with friends on social networking platforms such as Twitter or Facebook using their mobiles or iPads anywhere and anytime.

“The new youth culture is therefore less collaborative, less personal as communication transpires through cyberspace. To motivate and engage youths today to take up face-to-face interactions requires more than just awards. It requires a new thought paradigm. Youths still get together to watch football matches, attend concerts and hang out in shopping malls.

“Social organisations must therefore link their programmes to activities which youths can relate and enjoy as a group. Whatever awards or recognition to be given must be in sync with peer recognition as opposed to adult, parental or societal recognition,” Teo said.

He was commenting on Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s suggestion for the Ministry of Social Development to come up with an award to inspire youths to be involved in social work and activities that promote greater social interaction.

Taib, when launching the state-level Youth Day 2013 celebration in Kuching recently, reportedly mentioned the award would bring youths together and engage in the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

He was also quoted to have said youths these days tend to be too engrossed in the Internet while acknowledging it to be the most powerful instrument of communication today.

He reportedly said that it was important to get the youths to be more active socially as they are the nation’s greatest assets.

Teo suggested: “If social organisations can motivate and appeal to the emotional psyche of young people, they will be able to attract youths to mobilise and get involved in the larger community agenda.

“Youths today largely draw their motivations from what their peer groups think and are no longer drawn to societal expectations. Youth culture is more distinct and insular than it was 10 years ago.”

The former president of Sarawak Children Cancer Society (SCCS) Raymond Thong gave the thumbs-up to Taib’s suggestion to recognise youths through awards.

He figured it was high time such a matter be given serious attention.

Thong suggested that schools focus more attention on social programmes and activities by setting up more societies and clubs pertaining to social work.

“This is one way for youths to be involved and interested in social work while still in school. Hence, it is imperative that more funds be allocated in these areas.

“It is important to recognise their work by giving out school awards so that they can continue their social work when they leave school and begin their working career,” he said.

He further suggested that schools work closely with NGOs and youth organisations involved in social work and vice-versa to engage students, ensuring that they don’t lose interest along the way.

“Besides giving out awards to recognise them, it is pivotal to also send them out to attend seminars, workshops, conferences and others to gain new knowledge, experience and human development,” Thong suggested, saying this would help to keep youths updated.