A generations’ culture is influenced by a number of factors – but mostly by experiences that lead to the synthesis of a set of shared beliefs or values oft reinforced by society. In this context and that of understanding for the need to impart knowledge about living sustainably, SDP initiated a sustainability learning programme for todays’ youth, called the ‘Young Sustainability Ambassadors Programme’ (YSA) – alternately known as ‘Green Hearties’. The programme is predicated on nurturing youth between 7 to 17 years old to succeed in life. Since inception in March 2013, the programmes' humble beginning sought to impart knowledge and understanding about living sustainably through experiences (in pedagogical terms - experiential learning) to have a long-lasting and impactful outcome on our younger generation and to build an understanding between action and effect.
The programme initially focused on the children of SDP staff creating understanding about sustainability under the three pillars of sustainability; Social, Economic and Environment. The concept is simple in its intent, in that events and learning activities are arranged for members to participate in where the experience is made tangible whilst also promoting universal positive values. Thematic subjects within the range of activities and events include (but are not limited to): heritage, culture and history; society and welfare; financial management. proficiency; STEM; environment and climate change; biodiversity, nature and conservation; pollution; consumerism, waste management. and recycling/upcycling etc.
After 3 years of successful execution and having reached a point of maximum influence within the population of Sime Darby Property, it was determined that as the concept had been proven to be effective (a fine-tuned recipe), it could either continue under the status quo scale or reach out to a wider group of our nation’s youth. Hence, in mid 2015 plans were put in place to launch the YSA programme to the company’s townships (Phase 2) – about 9 or 10 of which have significant populations. Consequently, the YSA programme was launched via a roadshow approach across 6 townships (i.e., Bukit Jelutong, The Glades & Putra Heights, Denai Alam, Melawati, Nilai Impian and Bandar Bukit Raja for stage 1) from February to August 2016. The first roadshow at the Glades saw some 93 youth ranging from 7 to 17 years of age participate in a Junior Culinary Challenge, testing their skills to see how well they could prepare set dishes arranged by Sous Chefs from Sime Darby Convention Centre. The YSA programme has reached out to six of our townships, resulting in YSA member growth from about 230 to above 630 members, meaning that over half of the present members come from the six townships.
Moving forward, the programme managers have determined (and have already began arrangements for) the need for future collaboration with specialised Environmental/Social NGO. Also possible (as eluded by a request from one of the private learning institutions in one of the townships) is the potential to very soon see township chapters of YSA initiated. One other noteworthy point is that although the YSA Programme is based on experiential learning through events and activities, the programme also seeks to unlock leadership skills, and the potential innovation and passion of members through an Enviro-Challenge in the near future.
The Enviro-challenge will call on members to include their families in a home-based contest focusing on efficient energy, waste and water use at the household level. This activity will also be supported by the efforts of a partner. Although seeming like a possible insurmountable task, the broad objective is to see a culture shift from one of waste, which characterizes this generation, to one of sustainability and civic-mindedness.
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