POD’s mission is to befriend, engage and help youth at risk.
People of Destiny held an open house at its center in February for grassroots leaders and residents of Tampines. POD is a youth-oriented community service started by CHCSA in partnership with Tampines Changkat Citizens’ Consultative Committee and the Ministry of Community Development Youth & Sports. The Guest of Honor was Ms. Irene Ng, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC.
With a show of statistics, program executive Alvin Low explained the need for youth-centric services, as more youngsters are moving toward a wayward lifestyle, due to an increase in pressure and stress from home and school. POD actively engages these youth with center-based programs as well as workshops conducted in schools.
“We adopt an innovative approach in the way we conduct our programs—using different teaching tools and methods, such as interactive activities, role play and problem-solving projects,” said Jonathan Goh, 39, POD’s center manager. “Our programs are also very practical; whatever is taught can be applied immediately.”
It hasn’t always been smooth-sailing for POD as not everyone understands what they are trying to do for youth-at-risk. “While some of the feedbacks we’ve received from residents is favorable, others have been negative. It is understandable because there is a lack of sufficient information. So people tend to shun troubled youth and their less-than-desirable behavior,” Goh noted.
Yet, he adds, welcoming troubled youth is the first step toward helping them to change. “We have a very open concept—we welcome any youth, and we always befriend them first. We want POD to be a place where they can find acceptance, and in time to come, desire for a change in their lives.”
Within POD’s premises, house rules such as “no smoking” and “no vulgarities” apply. In fact, it has become a culture for the youth in POD to monitor themselves and make sure that even new additions to POD adhere to these rules. “Young people today just want someone to hear them out,” says Janet Kong, grassroots leader, acknowledging that centers like POD provide an alternative hang-out place where youth are mentored.
POD’s method of reaching out to youth may be, at times, a misunderstood process. However, staff of POD has seen heartening results. “Changing someone’s life through mentorship might take a long time but it will pay off when these youth are transformed into people of destiny,” said Low.