By: Sim Wan Yong
Around April last year, 4 Sunway University students, Caroline Regina Parameswaran, Sim Wan Yong, Chee Chia Ling and Sit Yuan Sheng were enrolled under Leaderonomic’s Project Mastery program, where they came up with the roughest of ideas of what project could be carried out that would benefit the society within a short timespan of 14 weeks.
The requirement? The project had to give a big impact of 1: 25: 25 scale, whereby one can impact 25, and the 25 can then continue to impact another 25 each. Our project coach was Marcus Lim, and he overlooked the project while it was ongoing.
Caroline told us how on the way to work she noticed motorcyclists on their way to work or fetching their children to school and how some if not most of the children are not wearing motorcycle helmets even if their parents are wearing one. Either that, or the children were wearing the wrong sized ones that could put them in danger.
Our initial plan was to build a helmet trade-in or rental center at rural areas, most possibly condominiums or low-cost apartments where the people going back or leaving the apartment could easily gain access to the helmets before they leave for work. Our plan B? A one-day campaign, most likely to give talks to a school and give out the helmets that we will provide on that day itself.
We prefered Plan A as it was more sustainable and the effects would be longer-lasting as compared to a one-day campaign. So we contacted various parties and sent them our proposals in hopes that we could find people that also find our project feasible and would like to take them up. The trouble with our plan was that we did not have the resources nor manpower to actually set up the center and keep it running, and the people we contacted either were not focusing on road safety issues at that time or they simply didn’t find the project to be beneficial for them.
While we still continued to amend our proposal and make changes to the timeline, we started to work on our fundraising. We only had a RM25 modal from the project facilitator, so to make do with what we had, we bought two types of candies in large quantities, small plastic bags to put them in, and printed small notes with our logo and some road safety tips and statistics on them to include with the candies. We went around campus for about two weeks, giving the candy packets to students and strangers alike and telling them about our project, and told them that they can donate to help us if they were interested. We looked for sponsors, providing packages like including their names and logos in our fliers and Facebook page et cetera if they chose to donate a certain amount of helmets as well.
Within 2 weeks, we managed to get RM1644.65. When we checked online for the prices of helmet at the time, we could get only about 30 to 40 helmets. We continued to contact other parties, including Dato’ Hannah Yeoh, YB Nik Yazmi, BFM, MIROS among others.
Meanwhile, to raise awareness about the road safety issues, we opened up a Facebook page with our project name, “One Child, One Helmet, One Life Saved” and posted photos with road safety statistics and tips on them on a daily, then weekly basis as the semester progressed.
We were unable to find partners to collaborate with for quite a long while, and by the time the project term ended, we were only starting to finding other companies and alternative plans to give the impact we wanted: to educate the public about road safety, especially the younger motorcycle pillions who are at high risks of road accidents.
Then we found Allianz4Good, who we noticed had similar projects with ours, giving out helmets and child seats among others for their road safety campaign. We reached out to them, asking if we could join them for their upcoming campaign at primary schools. We wanted to be able to work towards our initial goals to provide for children and road safety, and it just so happened that they would be holding their next one at SK Bandar Sunway and so we went. Our funds were redirected to the helmet manufacturer that JKJR recommended, and we were able to get 50 helmets, slightly more than we thought we could afford.
On the 21st of April, 3 members of our team, Caroline, Chia Ling and I, along with another two students under Leaderonomics came by to help us out during the day itself. We arrived around 1330, and briefly met up with the voilunteers from Allianz4Good’s side. We were to partner with someone else from the Allianz team, and there were 4 stations for children aged 8 to 9 to learn from and play at.
At the first station, the children had to identify three road safety symbols from boards in the area and write down the meaning of the symbols. Next, they learn how to cross roads, looking right, left and right again, then listening for upcoming vehicles before crossing, all the while being alert for vehicles. Next, they learn to put on motorcycle helmets and bicycle helmets correctly, with the strap not being too tight for them. Last but not least, the children learnt the ways to correctly use a seatbelt, where the strap should be et cetera.
The 9 year-olds went first, and after 2 hours and 30 minutes their parts were done and we had a half an hour break before we proceeded with the 8 year-olds. By 5.30pm, we were listening to the closing ceremony speech by the school’s principal, the JKJR representatives and of course, Allianz4Good. During the closing ceremony, Allianz4Good distributed safety vests to some of the students, while our children helmets were distributed to 50 students in that school according to their needs.
Here are what our group members have to say about how the felt throughout the project.
“Have you ever noticed that some parents who send their children to school on motorcycles fail to ensure that their children wear helmets despite wearing one themselves? It is scary how common this is. I am glad that this project provided us with a platform to address this issue.
The planning stage of this project taught me a lot about flexibility. Indeed, no plan is perfect and there is absolutely nothing wrong with readjusting plans to suit changing circumstances. This was possibly the hardest but most important lesson that I learned.
I was also introduced to the concept of “coffee dates” in business settings. As we sat down in a café to discuss our project, I was glad that our potential stakeholders took the lead. Though we did not end up working with this party, I am thankful for that meeting. They acknowledged the fact that we were young and were still learning the ropes; and they were kind enough to guide us in the right direction.
Kudos to Sim Wan Yong, our team leader, for ensuring that this project was brought to completion via a collaboration with Allianz. Being in the school and helping to educate the students about the different aspects of road safety and finally distributing the helmets warmed my heart. Indeed, nothing beats the excitement on the students’ faces as they received their brand new helmets. It was a very satisfying experience to know that we had made a difference in these students’ lives.”
- Caroline Regina Parameswaran
“Pandang kanan, kiri dan kanan semula”, the phrase that I speak the most when I was teaching the kids about the steps to cross over the road. Indeed, many of them remember the steps well after this session and it pleased me so much as awareness has been raised among them. The amount of satisfaction cannot be expressed or quantified when this campaign has come to be after a year and I am able to participate as a committee in this campaign. It is a unique experience for me as I helped someone in need and also learnt some values like perseverance and positive thinking throughout the entire journey.”
- Chee Chia Ling
“This project wasn’t my idea but rather, Caroline’s, and I was given the leader title only after we discussed what we hoped to learn throughout this project. However, being a leader wasn’t as easy as I always thought as I realized that I did not put teamwork into the picture as often as I should have. Nevertheless, completing the project was a really huge milestone for me as this would be the first major event that I took active participation in making it happen. Did I learn a lot? Yes, definitely. Could I have done it all again, better and more effectively? Again, yes. Perhaps if the chance comes up I would push for greater results.”
- Sim Wan Yong