By Ian Teng (21S03L), Chairperson and Christine Siow (21A01B), Vice-Chairperson
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is bringing about change—by reaching out to the community, spreading awareness of societal issues and acting upon them—and then encouraging others to do the same!
What is CA?
Community Advocates (CA) can be considered a rather young service-based CCA, with just 13 years of history in RI. Despite this, we have empowered members and the school community to look beyond just speaking up about issues of concern, so as to play a part in enacting concrete change to the wider community.
CA encompasses two different aspects: Advocacy and Service.
In advocacy, we aim to spread awareness and take action through coming up with innovative and effective projects! These projects provide a platform and impetus for CA members and the school to contribute to society.
In service, we partner with Social Service Organisations to care for our wider community, and in the process build personal relationships with the people we serve!
Student Interest Groups
Our family of advocates belong to three different student interest groups (SIGs), each championing a different cause. All members get the opportunity to choose our various groups based on our passions, allowing us to unite with like-minded peers to tackle social issues. These interest groups are named endearingly — Lifeline (Healthcare), Empty Pocket (Poverty) and Doveswarm (Migrant Workers).
Below is the focus of each SIG in the year 2020:
- Lifeline aims to fight the stigma faced by people with physical and mental health conditions;
- Empty Pocket strives to be a voice for change for those living in poverty;
- Doveswarm is committed to improving the welfare of migrant workers, and promoting their integration in Singapore.
The causes each SIG serves stay constant, but the organisations we work with and the direction for each year can vary. Aspiring CA members can look forward to helming their desired direction for service and advocacy!
Here at CA, we believe that service brings an intimate, grounded perspective to social issues that statistics alone can never bring. It also spurs us on to make a positive change to society as advocates.
Each year, SIGs partner with local Social Service Organizations related to their respective causes, and members volunteer weekly with them. Some examples would be Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital (Lifeline), Hope Centre (Empty Pocket) and ItsRainingRaincoats (Doveswarm).
This year, most of our General Meetings were held online due to the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, but physical sessions have begun.
Our online General Meetings used to be held every Wednesday, 4.00pm to 5.30pm, but now that our weekly physical GMs have replaced the online sessions, they are held every Wednesday, 2.30pm to 4.30pm.
We often use General Meetings to brainstorm, develop existing ideas or discuss final details for our projects! We also use the time to reflect on past projects, develop our skills as advocates, and gain awareness on social issues.
CA is an open, welcoming platform for members to develop their ideas into feasible initiatives, for every SIG to work on a project related to the SIG’s cause, and for the whole batch to collaborate on a large-scale project together!
Some examples include our hashtag movement #HBLLetMe, which shared the struggles of various vulnerable groups during COVID-19, and Doveswarm’s NDP donation drive held in August and our “Weathering the Storms with Migrant Workers” donation drive held in October. In these drives, we raised awareness about the struggles of our migrant workers during COVID-19, and involved our school population in donating National Day funpacks, as well as essential items for the rainy season to migrant workers. Doveswarm also held a forum in November with migrant workers and students to recognise the former’s artistic talents and better understand their worries.
Additionally, Lifeline carried out a week-long campaign, “Heart to Heart Week”, raising awareness on anxiety and mental health.
Empty Pocket has also gotten students to show appreciation to our non-teaching staff through writing online cards!
Our 2020 Batch Project, “The Food Issue”, has just finished. We have rolled it out in four different initiatives, focusing on packaging waste, food waste, and sustainable food choices!
Should I join CA?
Sometimes we see famous advocates, like Malala and her unwavering fight for female empowerment, or Nelson Mandela and his perseverance in tackling institutionalised racism, and we think, “I can never be like them.” But in CA, it is not about making it big instantly, but about using this safe space to explore your passion for advocacy and taking concrete steps towards change.
All it takes is a willing heart, an open mind, and the determination to make a positive difference! We look forward to welcoming new members into our warm-hearted family!