Supporting social causes through social media

25 Feb 2019

By Yuki Ling

The event, held on 29 and 30 Jan, saw students and external organisations set up 33 booths at the North Spine. PHOTO COURTESY OF QI KAI QIAN FOR WSC

The 2019 Social Impact Week, an annual event organised by the NTU Welfare Services Club (WSC), focused this year on encouraging students to show support for social causes through the use of social media.

Held on 29 and 30 Jan at North Spine, the event followed the theme “Orenda”, which refers to a supernatural force present in all people that empowers them to effect change in the community.

The event in-charge (IC) for Social Impact Week 2019, Ong Jun Peng, a second-year Nanyang Business School student, said: “In previous years, Social Impact Week was an outreach event which sought to bring social causes into the limelight, such as the elderly and the intellectually disabled.”

This year, the event focused on allowing students to contribute to change on top of the outreach, through the use of social media.

Participants had to capture themselves completing the activities and then upload the pictures or videos on their social media accounts as forms of publicity for the social causes.

The activities were categorised under learning about the community, learning to serve and pledging to serve the community.

Learning through participation

This refinement better allows students to contribute tangibly to social causes, in view of their busy schedules, said 22-year-old Ong.

For example, for learning about the community, participants filmed themselves explaining one of the chronic diseases faced by children served by Operation Hope – a Special Project portfolio under WSC that reaches out to children and youths suffering from chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

Participants could also upload videos of themselves using sign language to convey “hello, how can I help you?” to raise awareness for the deaf community.

To go further, participants could even commit to participating in a social cause.

For instance, they could pledge to go straw-free on their social media accounts, to show support for the eco-friendly movement.

The idea is to utilise the power of social media to reach a wider audience and to raise awareness about various social causes.

“Even if you can’t commit to volunteering at the moment, you can help to spread awareness,” said the co-event IC, Cheryl Choo, 21, a second-year student from the School of Social Sciences and School of Humanities.

Zannatun Noor, a second-year student from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences who took part in the event’s activities, said: “Spreading information about the less-privileged communities through social media is more convenient as many students use social media.”

With increased awareness, everyone from these communities can be included and treated equally by the public, the 21-year-old added.

The event had a total of 33 booths. These included 15 portfolios from WSC, such as their Regular Service Projects serving the elderly and the intellectually disabled, NTU clubs and external organisations such as the Social Development Initiative Academy.

Moving forward, the essence of Orenda will continue to guide the planning of future Social Impact Weeks even though the theme may change from year-to-year, said Ong.

In encouraging more NTU students to step up and spur positive change, Choo said: “You don’t have to be a hero to effect change. All it takes is a small step to make a difference.”