Organized for the 2nd time, the event brought together eight teams from five educational institutions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in addressing community needs.
Groups were given funding by the club to engage with respective causes and community partners in alignment with the 17 SDG goals. Participants of six students per team were exposed to a two-day training conducted by Innovative Formula in early October on project management and leadership to refine their proposed idea. Projects pitched ranged from benefitting the disabled community, single mums, refugee and HIV kids as well as suggested ways promoting sustainable living and environmental themes. The participants came from Multimedia University, SEGi University, Kolej Damansara Utama-University of Wollongong, Asia Pacific University and Sunway College.
Our team, ‘Helping Hands’ with Project emPOWER, provided an online and offline platform for single mothers from FLOUR POWER to expand their business beyond the current limited reach. These single and struggling mums who mostly work in-doors for their products were exposed to a sales booth at Jaya One, PJ to gain confidence on selling to the public. Project EmPOWER won 2nd place in the competition for best project! They received RM2,000 and impressed the judges with their specific details of creating a training manual, conducting the training and getting their beneficiaries online with a sustainable outlet for digital marketing.
Sunway’s 2nd team, ‘Food for Thought’ with Project Hand2Heart received consolation. Their project was to tackle food surplus and food preservation to which customized Hand2Heart pantry boxes were created as collection points for dry food surplus. The team planned and conducted two rounds of community engagement with delivery of the dry food collected and raw food surplus from ‘The Lost Food Project’ (a social enterprise that tackles food wastage). The student team also created educational games on food preservation for the B40 Community(below poverty-line) in Putra Damai and brought in someone to offer part time work to slow-learners in the area.
Both projects received tremendous support from Sunway College and the University community staff and students who pitched in as supporting team. To ensure sustainability of the cause, the projects will be continued in project-based modules from the VU Program, as new groups take it up and add value to the projects in catering to the welfare of their beneficiaries.
There were five reputable judges on the panel at the competition and students were exposed to the gruelling task of answering challenging questions to defend their project. The Chief Judge was Puan Sri Siew Yong Gnanalingam. However, the students gained a lot of exposure and experience in Project Management, networking, pitching skills and making a social impact as young leaders of tomorrow. Besides the leadership training program, the team had been assigned mentors from Soroptomists as well as an Advisor from Sunway College who journeyed with the teams for three months.
Besides the visible and intangible outcomes of these projects, it was rewarding to witness how underprivileged communities, in this case single mothers and the B40 community, would benefit greatly from the collective efforts of our students. Be it an educational or entrepreneurial pursuit, having young people strategize plans and contribute their strengths for the betterment of society is just the right kind of magic we hope we can develop for the future of a supportive community.