Each year, 90 to 100 new cases of childhood cancer are detected in children under 15 years old in Singapore. While some of them might be too young to fully understand what cancer is, the physical trials children with cancer go through requires no explanation. Through TrekInvicta, a social initiative dedicated to Singapore and the Children’s Cancer Foundation, Prasatt Arumugam hopes to challenge himself and inspire youths to action.
Credit: Christopher Parwani
Prasatt, 25, started volunteering with Children’s Cancer Foundation as part of the organization’s play personnel after going through the experience of losing his aunt to a cancer relapse. Several times each month, Prasatt engages in distraction play for kids visiting the hospital for tests, treatments and consultations. Distraction play, which comes in the form of LEGO workshops or even simply playing the child’s favourite game, prevents them from associating the hospital with pain and discomfort by giving them something fun to look forward to. Prasatt has also put his career on hold in order to commit himself to completing the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that Prasatt will be embarking on for TrekInvicta is a 4,280 km-long trail spanning from Canada to Mexico. This will be Prasatt’s bid to be the first Singaporean to complete the PCT, a trail with more than a 50% abandon rate. As an avid hiker himself, Prasatt has completed high-altitude treks in Nepal, USA and Tibet, but nothing as monumental as the PCT. This hike is Prasatt’s way of leading by example and expressing his solidarity with people suffering from cancer. The glowing testimonials from Prasatt’s supporting advisors speak of his infectious passion and his hope to inspire youths to give back to the community using their own talents and abilities.
TrekInvicta’s efforts to make itself heard are also worth mentioning as their website and promotional video are incredibly well-made and interesting. Their infographic for the PCT trail makes the trail easy to understand, and makes the initiative much more relatable overall. Their word-of-mouth promotion (friends and family sharing) has resulted in 1,000 people talking about TrekInvicta, and has already raised S$18,166 out of its S$26,660 goal, S$10 for every mile in the PCT.
Social initiatives are a great way to grant visibility to problems in society but do not provide a long-term solution for them. Social enterprises, businesses that are set up to fulfill a social goal by utilizing business practices and strategies, offer a sustainable solution.
One prominent social enterprise is Eighteen Chefs, which is aimed at giving former convicts employment and a second chance by teaching skills to them. Singapore’s Center for Social Enterprise, or “raiSE”, oversees a slew of initiatives for social enterprises for ranging from startup grants to financial help for expansion. One springboard which allows entrepreneurs to emulate Prasatt’s spirit is raiSE’s VentureforGood grant. With a focus on new and existing social enterprises addressing social gaps or needs, the grant is open for applications from now till 6th June 2016.