18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Pedalling To Sunrise
What happens when a group of healthcare personnels gather after dark? A flurry of participants wearing exclusively designed lime green and hot pink T-shirts illuminating the streets of Singapore; cyclists saddling up their two-wheeled chariots for a 32km adrenaline-pumping route; and peals of laughter filling the cool night air. New friendships are made and old ones rekindled.

The 57 cyclists who took part in the Young Healthcare Services Employees’ Union’s (HSEU) Bike Night on 22 March 2014 from 10pm to 6am, definitely call it a night to remember.

In fact, a similar event had been planned with other unions in 2012. Its awesome turnout inspired 3 youth committee members, Norashikin, Nurul Jannah Jamalludin and Selene Teo, to start the unprecedented cycling event, organised by Young HSEU.

The organisers gained a learning experience. “We faced difficulties while recceing as we realised our initial route could be strenuous for beginners. As our objective was for everyone to enjoy a leisurely ride, we changed the route to cater to all levels of cyclists. Hiring a voluntary ambulance service could have also helped reduce cost,” said Selene.

Despite hiccups, the event successfully fulfilled its multitude of purposes: reaching out and engaging youths of the healthcare sector through healthy activities like cycling and recruiting potential youth activists.

Unlike previous generations who started with a slate in which they had nothing and had to work towards gaining something, youths today start work with a set of standards in place. They may not be cognizant of the importance of being informed. Therefore it is essential for unions to involve youths or risk losing their understanding of labour rights.

In reaching out, Young HSEU’s participants engaged in an interactive one-hour session, enjoying the scenic views of Marina Barrage while playing games like ice-breakers, charade and an animal blindfold game. The winning team won a special prize that had to be spent as a team thereby encouraging cohesiveness amongst members.

The event also gave the union opportunities to interact with members and non-members from various hospitals in the healthcare sector. Through interaction, Group Marshalls in the teams can also look out for potential activists to join the Young HSEU activists’ network.

“Through games and activities, we ensured that rapport is built between members and members, as well as members and the union. Otherwise, this would be a dry ‘touch-and-go’ event,” remarked Selene.

The next Young HSEU cycling night promises to be bigger and better with attractive sponsors. “We will normally gather feedback from our past events and improvise future events accordingly. Most importantly, members have to benefit from it,” added Norashikin.

As participants are positively engaged in something that they care about or through common interests, such events organised by youths, for youths, would touch the hearts and minds of labour activists and active citizens of the future.