Author - HN Koong
Congratulations to our Tobacco Free Generation Advocates from the 2018 GapSemester programme. Regan, Ethan and Shashank mastered their TFG materials and confidently delivered the TFG sub themes to leave permanent impressions in these juniors. Shashank graduated from Concord Primary and it is exemplary that he has reached back to his alma mater, bringing along his fellow Rafflesians. Thank you Concord Primary for welcoming TFG last 18 October 2019. Your students were very attentive and participatory. Congratulations Concord Primary for these well behaved learners.
Shruti: The public were generally very receptive towards our advocacy and we were able to target people from various age groups which definitely gave us an added boost. Being able to contribute something back to the community with Tobacco Free Generation has been enlightening and heartening. We are definitely sure that our activities have brought about a positive impact to the community!!
Jessica : I was surprised that most of the participants were so enthusiastic about playing the games, especially the chapteh and five stones, and that so many of them would support the idea of a Tobacco Free Generation.
Francine : I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the public and getting to know more about their opinions on tobacco free generation. Overall, I had a meaningful experience participating in this! F
Hui Bin : Not only was this experience rewarding and fulfilling, I also had a lot of fun learning how to manage a large group of public when the booth was very crowded. I learnt to quickly toggle between speaking English and Chinese quickly when needed, and learnt to manage and motivate different types of people. Overall, it was an extremely enriching experience for me.
Sophie : It was an interesting experience as I had never had such an opportunity to interact with so many members of the public before. This experience was worth my Saturday afternoon. I also feel that the tobacco-free generation idea is an interesting and possible more effective take on curbing smoking.
Chloe : It was an opportunity to learn more about tobacco free generation and about how youths are easily influenced to smoke as I am not usually exposed to these youth. I was heartened to see so many people in support of this cause and even smokers who responded that they were more inclined to stop smoking! Overall, it really was a valuable experience!
Yun Han : I had an enjoyable experience interacting and teaching the public. Many knew about the harmful effects of smoking quite thoroughly too, given the amount of awareness raised about it by the government. However, I think that this activity promoted this message a step further. It is no doubt that the public would be more willing to encourage their family and friends to not pick up smoking too! Overall it was really an interesting and meaningful experience for me!
Amelia : I think that this journey has been very enriching, from the planning to the execution of this initiative. I think it was very heartening to see our participants from different ages and walks of life enjoying our activities and the traditional games, and so many of them saying that they learnt something from our activities and would support the idea of a Tobacco Free Generation.
Natalie : The volunteering experience overall was definitely very enriching and I felt that my time was well-spent for a good cause! Personally, I also learnt about the negative effects of smoking and the vision of a tobacco free generation. During the event, it was heartening to spread the message to young children in whatever small way I could and seeing them pledge to support the TFG at the end made me feel a sense of satisfaction. Maybe, in whatever small way, I contributed towards another child choosing to never smoke.
Heidi :It was a meaningful and fulfilling experience for me. When asked if they would take up smoking in the near future, the public also indicated that they would not and some even supported having a tobacco-free singapore. Overall, it was a good experience.
Shermaine : I think the most unexpected thing was many people were happy to be playing the games they played during their childhood. They shared their childhood memories with us. People of all walks of life bonding through the games drawing in the younger generations trying out the games. The public was also very supportive of tobacco-free generation ideas. I think one of the best parts was interacting with young children.
HY :I think the best part of this initiative was when we saw participants interacting with each other. An example would be when people from the older generation demonstrated how to play traditional games for the younger children and of course when they were receptive to our message and supported our cause!
Natasha : I had a meaningful experience promoting for Tobacco Free Generation. Most did say that they would tell their children not to smoke as they understood the dangers of smoking. They could help us spread the message of a TFG future too. Overall, it was very fun and heartening to see so many people participating actively!
Rebecca :Volunteering that day was extremely meaningful. I appreciate the promotion of a tobacco free generation. I felt proud that I could spread awareness on this.
Giselle : It was quite a fulfilling experience as I’ve never interacted with so many people before. Sharing and spreading the message to stay away from smoking has been quite successful in a way though we were met with many non smokers. I think if we had more teenage visitors, it’d have been more successful. Overall, it was a meaningful experience and I really enjoyed it!
Bernice : From volunteering that day, I realised that children are easily influenced by their elder siblings and parents. They may very well also affect bigger decisions such as whether or not to pick up smoking. This is why I was especially happy when parents encouraged their children to learn about the project’s message and together pledged to support a Tobacco Free Generation.
“One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.” -William Osler
This quote from the father of modern medicine beautifully encapsulates the fundamental concepts of advocacy work: education, collaboration and empowerment. Advocacy; A once foreign concept to me, it has now begun grow close to my heart and take roots in the soil of my beliefs as the golden ticket to effecting positive change in public health.
As part of my journey of transition from a pharmacist to a medical student, I have had the privileged opportunity to experience and be a part of a youth advocacy movement against tobacco use (Tobacco Free Generation, TFG) This was my second dabble with advocacy work – the first being a mere few months prior to this trip. Whilst the first opened my eyes to the evident importance of youth-driven advocacy work, this trip very much crystallized my conviction that the raw untapped energy of youth can be harnessed to drive positive social movements.
Together with two youth leaders, Dr Lynn Ong, and Jessica Koong, led by a founder, Dr Koong Heng Nung, our team worked tirelessly over a week. We convened with local policy makers for planning of TFG future advances, met with community leaders to introduce the concept of TFG, and trained local youth leaders in advocacy work and public speaking.
While it was indeed heartening to hear the policy makers and the community leaders express enthusiastic support for TFG, what impressed most strongly upon me was the work that was done involving the local youth leaders. The youth leaders were carefully selected from an impressive myriad of backgrounds ranging from poets, to public speakers and actors. Over days of assiduous coaching and mentoring by Lynn and Jessica, we witnessed the blossoming of the initially taciturn youths, leaving the confinements of their reticence to become independent and convincing advocates for the vision of a tobacco free generation.
I came away from this experience with two convictions that stood out as veridical to me.
First: I saw how raw youthful enthusiasm can be, and ought to be harnessed and channelled towards creating prodigious change in public health. The Tobacco Free Generation has been exceptionally successful in gaining traction in various international communities for this very reason: it recognises the untapped energy and virulent influence of youths and uses it industriously to drive positive social movements.
Second and more importantly: The Tobacco Free Generation end game concept distinguishes itself from other anti-tobacco and end game strategies by a single simple ingenious strategy. It creates no divide between the smokers and non-smokers, but rather, takes on the fight against tobacco-use from a refreshing angle. By doing so, TFG successfully removes the banality from the usual platitudinous teachings about the harms of smoking and bands the smokers and non-smokers, creating a greater reckoning force in the fight against tobacco.
It was great to have your team and you in our school, raising the awareness of the ill effects of smoking and t introducing to them to the TFG 2000 proposal.
Your team’s sharing has been engaging and impactful. The questions asked in the sessions and video presented enabled my pupils to be constantly reflective and insightful. Our pupils mentioned that the talk was meaningful.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come to our school to share with our pupils.
Mdm Wendy Ng
Nan Hua Primary School
5 and 7 August 2019 : Four 17 year old students who learnt about TFG last year, stepped forward to explain TFG to the younger peers as part of their Community Outreach Project. There was immediate engagement as they were sharing as peers. They were neither imposing a top down enforcement nor showing the deaths and diseases of nicotine addiction. They discussed.