THE Asian Research Centre for Child and Adolescent Development (ARCCADE), which works with HELP University Colleges Department of Behavioural Sciences, held a United Nations Recognition Ceremony for the ARCCADE-Unicef Mentoring Malaysia Project.
Mentoring Malaysia is an after-school project helping Form One and Form Two students facing social and emotional challenges.
According to statistics, 28% of Malaysian children have mental health problems.
The programme aims to provide schools with volunteers trained to serve as positive role models and guides to teenagers.
The volunteers impart skills through wildlife, drama and other activities that promote the relationship between mentor and mentee.
Programme director Dr Brendan Gomez said the programme had helped parents and teachers see the difference these young people had made in their own lives and in the lives of others.
We started this mentoring programme to act as a prevention method against mental health problems in teens, he said.
Most of the volunteers are undergraduates from HELP's psychology programme. Volunteers go through six months of rigorous training at ARCCADE to be a mentor that includes understanding teen development.
School students volunteer to be part of this programme with permission from their school and parents.
It is sponsored by Unicef and HELP.
The recognition ceremony was held as a tribute to the young people working with the schoolchildren and to recognise the teenagers who have chosen to take part in the programme.
About 300 people, including HELP students, mentors and mentees, teachers and parents from participating schools attended the ceremony. Mentees performed dances and play at the ceremony.
World squash champion Nicol David, who was at the event, encouraged teenagers to keep striving to be the best in whatever they did because each had a unique quality.
Appreciate yourself first, and everything else will follow. Make full use of your capabilities and some day your dreams will come true. I know mine did, she said.
Unicef programme co-ordinator Dr Rudi Luchmann said the organisation was committed to working with the Government, schools, parents and society in Malaysia to strengthen existing efforts to improve the students' social well-being.
Psychology major and mentor Daniel Lee, 21, said it was encouraging to see the students open up after a while.
Initially, they were shy and reserved, but after a few weeks they were more willing to share their personal problems with us, he said.
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