Youth, Innovation and Society: Reflecting on the Create4Good II Finals


By Zheng Mei Jia

I am Zheng Mei Jia, a secondary 4 student from River Valley High School. On May 2, I was privileged enough to be given the opportunity to attend the finals of the Create4Good II Challenge at the Singapore Management University. I wanted to attend the event as I have always been interested in the intersection between science and the humanities. I was deeply inspired by the competitors as each group displayed immense passion, thought, sensitivity, and months of research when presenting their solutions to social needs.

 

Introducing the winners of Create4Good II: Team Mobearlize!

Posted by Lien Centre for Social Innovation on Tuesday, May 2, 2017

(Check out more videos of the event on our Facebook Page!)

I have learnt a lot from this event but I believe that my biggest takeaway is the way that the idea of innovation has changed throughout the years. 10 years ago, the word “innovation” was perceived as a means for entrepreneurs to profit financially. However, we are working towards becoming a caring, compassionate and inclusive society. Now, “innovation” might bring about a more positive response from the public; it enables and empowers persons with disabilities. Singapore’s attempts at engaging youth on social change though competitions like Create4Good may not be entirely novel, but it is similar to other social innovations like the Hult Prize, which is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship which brings together the brightest university students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The annual initiative awards up to US$1 million, giving students many opportunities to act upon their ideas.

In addition, another major takeaway I got from the Create4Good II finals is that there are many ways of helping the less privileged. Most social enterprises focus on helping persons with disabilities fulfill their physical needs but we rarely see organizations targeted at fulfilling emotional needs. For instance, the Wheelpower group shared that their wheelchair attachment was designed to reduce physical strain on caregivers while reducing the sense of burden felt by persons with disabilities. Listening to the presentations allowed me to realise that there are some forgotten groups of people who are left socially isolated. Even as we are living in a prosperous and wealthy country like Singapore, there are still many unmet social needs, and very often our pursuit of material progress means that these people are left behind. Seeing how the different inventions were solutions targeted at different under-served groups, it reminds us to take care of those forgotten as well.

Create4Good II participants and judges

Lastly, this competition empowers youth to become change agents, allowing them to play their part in doing good for society while making good use of their talents. Most youth might not have the opportunity of bringing their ideas to reality as they do not have enough financial resources or support. However, this competition serves as a platform for youth to develop their ideas into creative solutions that deal with social issues. Winners of the competition are given monetary support and professional advice from industry experts.  Some might be hesitant about placing the future into the hands of youth, who may be regarded as naïve and idealistic. However, when youth are given the space to dream and think, when we are given the tools to collaborate and problem-solve, to brainstorm and reflect, we are fully capable of bringing about societal change.

I am grateful for the valuable chance given to me to attend the Create4Good II finals. Not only have I learnt more about social entrepreneurship, I am now more inspired than ever to think about unmet social needs. If given the opportunity, I hope to be able to join such a competition in future.

 


The Create4Good Challenge is an annual social initiative by the late Kwek Leng Joo for undergraduates from Singapore University of Technology & Design and Singapore Management University to work together for social good. This initiative harnesses the strengths of SUTD’s multidisciplinary research and SMU’s strength in business and innovation. Students from both institutions form joint teams to create sustainable and scalable enterprises with a social care angle.


Zheng Mei Jia, 16, is a Year 4 student at River Valley High School. She enjoys exploring the reasons for peoples’ behavior through psychology and sociology as well as the study of the way our body works through biomedical science. Her dream has always been to pursue something that incorporates both the sciences and the humanities. She feels strongly about creating positive social impact, and aspires to become a psychologist or psychiatrist.