Helping Youth Get Their Act Together

February 24, 2012 | The New Straits Times | Looi Sue-Chern |

Originally held in Penang, Youth Jam will spread its wings to Perak and Kuala Lumpur, and offer young people a platform to find their talent too

In George Town, Penang, the idea of creating an effective platform called Youth Jam to help youth find and realise their passion and potential came about in 2009 when two teenage girls thought youth should be organising events meant for youth.

The idea was simple. They would organise the events, come up with ideas, plan the events, find funding and sponsorship, identify suitable venues, recruit and mobilise volunteers, promote the events and get the show on road. It would be like organising a club event at school but at a much larger scale.

The experience would give youth a valuable experience and equip them with soft skills and leadership qualities they would need in life.

Penang Youth Director Jazz Tan Yee Mei, 22, says the idea is to change the mindset of youth.

The idealistic young woman was just a college student of 19 when she started the project in 2009 with Ginger Chin, who was then 16. Both were simply two kids with a big idea.

Youth Jam is where youth can channel all their energy into activities like art and dancing and projects that will lead to the betterment of society.

“The youth are beginning to identify with Youth Jam. They are approaching us with ideas which they want to see realised, and to learn to engage the outside world.

“That is what we do. We want to expose them to the larger world out there, connect them with the right people, help them get sponsors, get endorsements, manage their events and the crowd, and ultimately learn to realise their dreams and develop their careers successfully,” says Tan.

Since they started, Youth Jam has made a difference for a number of young people, some of whom have opened up their own events management companies, art and dance studios and are in jobs they are passionate about.

The projects have even managed to turn some lives around, she says. “We had someone who confessed that he was a tailou (a gangster big brother) during his schooldays. He always had a passion for photography and Youth Jam encouraged him to work on his talent.

“Today, he is doing well as a photographer for organisations in the public and private sector,” she says, adding that the one-time ‘bad boy’ has also returned to his alma mater to advise his juniors to follow the right path to achieve success.

This year’s Youth Jam is at the Penang Times Square in George Town on July 7, in Perak on July 14 and then on to Kuala Lumpur. Covering three states, Youth Jam 2012 is targeting over 50 youth projects.

“Youth Jam in Perak and Kuala Lumpur will modelled after the one in Penang,” she says, adding that talks about expanding the project to Kedah, Pahang, Johor Baru and Sarawak have also started.

This year’s Youth Jam project in the three states is receiving financial backing of RM150,000 from Dana Belia 1Malaysia, a fund launched by the federal government in January last year to provide the youth with an avenue to initiate their own projects.

The fund has a grant worth RM20 million, funded by government owned strategic development company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

  • Excerpt reproduced with the permission of The New Straits Times, Malaysia