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Inspiring young people to inspire others
IMAGINE getting retrenched, divorced - with three kids in tow - all within the same year.
That was what happened to Wendy Chua-Sullivan between 1999 and 2000 and the experiences led to the creation of Wand Inspiration Network (WIN) in 2003, of which Ms Chua-Sullivan is founder and managing director.
"My setbacks got me reflecting on what I could better do to support our community . . . and (the events helped) build my resilience as an individual and also have more compassion and courage to take on life's challenges," she says.
WIN is an organisation that specialises in leadership, team and personal development programmes for corporates and schools.
Project Dawn was WIN's first such initiative, which focused on getting individuals to sponsor Ms Chua-Sullivan's book Break to Dawn for youths in welfare homes in Singapore.
The sponsors of these books were also encouraged to leave notes of encouragement for the youths who received her book. "We managed to reach out to at least 500 youths and free workshops on resilience were conducted for them," she says.
WIN has also been actively involved in CampVision, which reaches out to marginalised youths since December 2004.
"When I was first involved with CampVision, I helped to facilitate the running of activities as a camp counseller but over time, I have moved on to provide support through other means," says Ms Chua-Sullivan.
Albert King, WIN's director of strategy, says: "I am happy to be able to share my developmental and growth experience together with youths at CampVision."
Their efforts with CampVision have borne fruit as ex-participants have taken up roles at CampVision and non-profit organisations.
One such example is that of Gary Lau, whose positive experience at CampVision, inspired him to return to school and turn his life around. He is now working towards being a social worker and counsellor to youths.
"Wendy and her team have given me the opportunity to engage and share my personal story with others while sharing with me some counselling skills which have benefited my interactions with the individuals I am helping," says Mr Lau.
Over the years, Ms Chua-Sullivan's commitment has not wavered and with her team at WIN, plans are in place for more long-term engagements in the coming year.
"We have been in partnership with ITE Central since 2013 and are currently in discussions on a pro-bono pilot of a year-long programme called, By your Side, By your Self, for selected first year students. We intend to have up to 20 young people in this programme which we hope to commence in February 2018."
WIN is also in the midst of planning a subsidised or pro bono workshop called Inspired for Good for social workers and educators, to nurture their self-care, resilience and renew their purpose, so they don't burn out.
"We also are looking at corporate organisations who are willing to partner with us, to provide free training rooms, staff who will volunteer as mentors, and other ways to support our efforts," says Ms Chua-Sullivan.
On her personal aims for the future, she hopes to bring her experience to a board of a non-profit organisation.
- This article is part of a series covering companies contributing towards under-served causes. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as media partner. Go to www.companyofgood.sg for more information.
Company of Good is in support of SGCares, a national movement dedicated to supporting the goodwill of Singaporeans and to guide them to better help those in need.