26-year-old Chris Ang has been volunteering at TOUCH Leadership & Mentoring (TL&M) since 2013. As a youth mentor, he works closely with primary and secondary school students and helps facilitate their learning during school programmes. However, despite the leadership position he now holds,Chris was never a top student in school. In fact, he used to be an at-risk youth. Often bullied by his seniors in secondary school, Chris was constantly seeking acceptance and love.
Due to his classmate’s influence, he became a loan-shark runner and was part of a secret society at a young age of 14. Chris assisted a loan-shark syndicate in harassing debtors by splashing paint on their doors in the wee hours of the morning. He was also involved in several gang fights over territory disputes. At 15, he was placed under a Probation Order for more than a year. Under this order, an electronic tag was attached to his ankle and he had to report home by 10pm daily to comply with a curfew. The end-goal of the Probation Order was to reintegrate Chris into mainstream society as a socially responsible and law-abiding individual.
After the completion of his Probation Order, Chris left the gang with the help of an Investigation Officer (IO) from the Singapore Police Force (SPF). With constant encouragement from his IO, he went on to further his studies at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) after sitting for the Normal (Technical) Level Examination. Till today, Chris still remembers vividly what his IO told him upon completion of his Probation Order – “You are a man who can make a difference to the society.” This marked the start of his volunteering journey in TL&M which led him to mentor youths from various backgrounds.
Chris was first introduced to TL&M by a mentor. He decided to start volunteering at TL&M because he felt that he could touch the lives of the younger generation and inspire them with his past experiences. Just like how his IO has impacted his life positively 10 years ago, Chris strives to be a role model to the youths he encounters with help from the trainers at TL&M.
Says Chris, “Because of the faith and trust that the trainers in TL&M had in me, I gained confidence to rise up as a mentor.”
As a young person, he dedicates most of his free time volunteering in TL&M while most of his friends are hanging out and having fun. However, volunteering at TL&M has brought about many positive changes in Chris’ life. It has changed the way he looks at things and the way he responds to others in need.
Chris recalls a memorable incident in his volunteering journey during a group discussion at Westwood Secondary School early this year. A student went up and asked him, “Why do you want to be a mentor?” The question reminded Chris of his purpose in volunteering with TL&M and his passion to serve the next generation. His reply to the student was that, “Learning comes in both ways – not only do you learn as a student, I too learn as a mentor.”
To develop further as a mentor, Chris is currently volunteering regularly at TOUCH Youth’s newly opened A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E Centre @ ITE College East. At A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E, students’ interest and hobbies are developed into relevant skills and strengths with high employment potential. The centre seeks opportunities for students to develop personal exploration, growth and mastery. Being a former ITE student, Chris is committed to mentoring the students and building rapport with them through this program.