- GoodKids Malaysia helps marginalised youths to develop life skills.
- It’s a 20 week programme that helps to increase self confidence and assertiveness.
It’s been said many times before, but still is worth emphasising: educational institutions focus more on academic excellence as the main criteria for being successful in life, forgetting that the youth also need to develop skills that are crucial for them to succeed.
Seeing this gap, GoodKids Malaysia was set up to provide an alternative learning platform to help youths develop self confidence and life skills which are crucial for them to succeed in life.
Keeping It In The Family
Balasubramaniam Somasundram is a counselling psychologist who has been working with the marginalised community especially youth, for over 30 years.
His daughter, Naaraayini Balasubramaniam is a singer and musician who holds a diploma in both Psychology and Music. Since young, she has been involved with volunteer work thanks to her father.
His niece, Koggelavani Muniandy was an engineer by qualification but quit after 5 years in the industry because she found her passion to teach from the volunteer work that she does with her uncle.
Their social enterprise was built on the foundation of skills and talents that this combination provided.
“The main aim is to help youth to build their self confidence because we find that the lack of self confidence is the root cause of why many youth fall out of education. [This makes] them unable to sustain any efforts that they embark [on], making them feel helpless and turn into other unhealthy means,” Koggelavani said.
Reaching Out As One Big Family
The family team made it their mission to help the marginalised community, students from shelter homes and Orang Asli villages and schools. They also focus on helping youth who are at high risk of falling into social vices.
“We advice them about the repercussions of social vices and provide an alternative platform where they can contribute back to the community,” said Koggelavani.
They have identified the root cause of the problem: youth seek acceptance and want to belong to something, which is why GoodKids is the platform for them to feel like they belong in one big family.
Bringing Together An Unlikely Combo
It was and still is an uphill battle. One of the major challenges they faced was to create an understanding and awareness about what a social enterprise is and what kind of impact does GoodKids has.
Some organisations have even declined funding their cause as they do not get tax exemptions by funding a social enterprise, as it is seen as a business.
Other than that, before the programme was started, there were people who doubted that counselling and performing arts could be combined to yield any real-world results. Thus, the team behind GoodKids conducted 2 pilot runs to validate the methodology.
The current programme lasts for 20 weeks and helps youths to build up their confidence and assertiveness, which they learn through percussion, music instrument making, stomping, and even acting.
“We got testimonials not only from the students, but also from parents and teachers who were convinced that our program helped to create a positive change in the students.”
“Students who were disruptive began to work together in a team and took lead of tasks in their team. This was all we needed to formally establish Goodkids as an organisation,” Koggelavani said.
After conducting many courses and classes, the team has continuously gathered data of student improvement after joining their programmes and compile it into annual impact reports.
Funding Their Way Through
Being a social enterprise (and not a charity or NGO), they have to earn capital from somewhere to run the day-to-day business.
GoodKids does have a few revenue-generating ideas. They stated, “The biggest one is our GoodKids League, which we sell tickets to the public to come and watch. We also do sell our merchandise such as t-shirts on our website. Very recently we have also ventured into corporate training.”
“So far, we have successfully done a few for our supporting organisations, and have received great feedback from them,” Koggelavani added.
Sharing Words That Impact Lives
“How is this benefiting the students? If yes let’s find a way to do it.”
These are the words that have created the mindset for the team that have taken them from dead-ends to success. “Another crucial feature entrepreneurs should have is readiness to receive new knowledge and the ability to adapt to the given circumstances,” she added.
She reminds would-be entrepreneurs who wish to join the social enterprise industry that it is not easy and involves a lot more of hard work.
“No one is warned of the hurdle that is coming your way, but when it arrives you must be willing to find a way to solve the problem to keep heading towards your initial goals.”
- You can find out more about GoodKids Malaysia and their events on their Facebook page here.
Feature Image Credit: GoodKids Malaysia Facebook