1st Quarter 2012 Newsletter

Julia Koh and fellow Eagles sharing in team building

Encouraging EAGLES to soar

Six Singaporean and 19 ASEAN youth leaders came together in December last year for a four-day leadership programme in the National University of Singapore University Town. While this was the first such interaction, the foundation was laid 14 years ago with the Sunburst Youth Camp, where over a hundred ASEAN youths come together annually, for a week of educational and cultural exchange.
Julia Koh, who represented her school at the Sunburst Youth Camp in 2001, was left with such an indelible impression of her camp experience that when she was invited to attend the first Sunburst Eagles programme, Julia, a Human Resources Specialist, immediately signed up. This was an opportunity for Sunburst alumni to reconnect and to acquire new leadership skills.

An innovative programme, EAGLES helps youth leaders acquire the skills to Energize, Achieve, Galvanize, Lead, Empower and Soar.

Apart from harnessing leadership qualities through experiential learning and case study discussions, the programme also exposed participants to the value of compassion in leadership. To experience the reality, participants devoted half a day to interacting with the less privileged from TOUCH Community Services were also asked to suggest a community project to benefit their home country. The resulting suggestions ranged from providing food for less privileged families in Singapore to building communal toilets in Indonesia. Plans are now underway to implement some of these projects in the respective communities.

For Julia, the programme was more than a regular leadership workshop: "Sunburst EAGLES reminded me that I should actively work towards doing more, be it for the community or setting personal goals. It provided me with an encouraging environment to grow, both professionally and as a person. I was also very touched by the strong level of compassion shown by all participants to the less fortunate in Singapore."

Admiring the artistic talent of YouthReach mentees

Increasing support for youth in recovery

Sunny, 19, was diagnosed with Depression and Schizophrenia. His hallucinations caused him to become more reclusive and to self-mutilate. According to the Mental Health Survey*, conditions like Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Alcohol Abuse affect many youths like Sunny.

Recognising that help for youths was limited, the Singapore Association for Mental Health set up YouthReach in 2006 to provide much needed support.In 2010, helped by funding from Temasek Cares, YouthReach extended its services to include a mentoring programme and a 24-hour hotline. This enhanced programme will eventually reach out to more than 165 youths and 340 caregivers. Aside from counselling, home visits and individualised goal-setting for those affected, volunteers also lead activities like Yoga, sailing and art classes. Caregivers are equipped with skills and knowledge to better manage the youths' condition.

YouthReach has also widened its focus to include at-risk youths with psychological or emotional issues, encouraging a larger group to seek professional help early and to receive the medical attention they need.In Sunny’s case, YouthReach worked closely with him, his doctor and case worker to develop the most suitable ways to manage his illness. Through psycho-education, Sunny's family also got a better understanding of his condition, enabling them to provide the support he needs. Thanks to these efforts, Sunny is now better able to manage his condition and has since attended vocational training in retail sales.

Sunny is just one of YouthReach’s many success stories. About 90% of the programmes’s participants have successfully reintegrated into their families and society.*Source: The Straits Times, 18 November 2011

Dr Cheong and team assessing mice which have received the new drug delivery approach

An innovative approach to fighting cancer

Research into a new way of administering drugs may provide a breakthrough in the treatment of cancer. While cancer-curing drugs have already been developed, none are able to combat the disease without collaterally harming the individual.

A team at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory established in February 2011 has been making headway into targeted drug delivery. Their approach could potentially deliver drugs directly to malignant tumours, eradicating them while leaving healthy cells intact.

Using Clostridium novyi-NT, an anaerobic bacterium, the team led by Dr Ian Cheong has been able to effectively target the release of drugs within tumours in mice, curing most of them."Having seen the responses in animals, I hope that this drug delivery prototype will show the same benefit for human cancer patients," says Dr Cheong.

Previously from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland, Dr Cheong has continued his collaboration with them. The work has led to clinical trials for the use of Clostridium novyi-NT in humans.
Dr Cheong hopes that this novel approach can be applied to the administration of currently available drugs, increasing the efficacy of treatment: "If the clinical testing pans out, this research will increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy while reducing its side effects."

Hands-on training for masons in Assam in wall strengthening techniques

Retrofitting buildings in India to limit earthquake damage

Master builders in India have now acquired knowledge on retrofitting buildings to make them more resistant to earthquakes. Last year, ten public school buildings across the states of Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat in India were modified to better withstand seismic activity. In the process, local builders were trained in construction practices that would withstand the impact of earthquakes.

The Training and Capacity-Building Programme on Seismic Strengthening for Master and Local Builders, is run by the Sustainable Environment and Ecological Society (SEEDS), a New Delhi based NGO, and supported by Temasek Foundation and Nanyang Technological University.Public schools were chosen to demonstrate this knowledge as the safety of their students is high priority. One public school selected for this programme was "Taraben Kanya Shala" in Patan Gujarat with 450 students and 13 teachersAside from the training provided to a core group of master builders, training handbooks will also be produced, so that the knowledge may be extended and shared with more builders in different states across India.


  • 23 Jan 2012 - Making the best of a sticky situation
  • 24 Dec 2011 - Halfway house planned for youngsters with mental disorders (The Straits Times)
  • 21 Nov 2011 - Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat graces NUS High School’s convocation as it announces the inaugural Tay Eng Soon Awards and Scholarships [more]

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