The weekend of 26th-28th of April 2013 will be engraved deeply in the memory of 47 students of SMK Dato’ Onn who attended Midnight Football (MF) Leadership Camp. Held at a lush green tropical forest of Dengkil, Selangor, the three-day-two-night camp, organised by Global Peace Festival (GPF) Malaysia, was set as an introductory program for new participants of the MF this year. The camp was held to instil positive character traits and foster team spirit among the participants of this 8-month program.
Since the first day of camp, participants were put into 6 random groups to split them from being in social cliques. After ice-breaking session, each group had to discuss a unique name and present a team cheer. Facilitators guided each group without taking the reins to encourage them to take responsibilities and lead.
“This camp is strategically set to ‘force’ the students to know each other. We mix Chinese, Indian and Malay students into each group which I think, is a very good strategy,” said Alice Cornwell, the Workshop Director for Midnight Football Program. “There are some tough times when they really need each other and fun times they share together. That is when they started building a friendship that we believe will continue in their school.”
The three days were filled with various interesting outdoor and indoor activities, presentations and discussions. Presentations such as ‘One Family Under God’, ‘True Love Power’, ‘Find Your True Identity’ were delivered by dynamic speakers such as James Poon, the Director of Program Development and Jim Lee, Programme Coordinator. By the end of the sessions, each group had discussion and presented their ideas related to the topic of discussions.
“We designed challenging and fun outdoor activities as we know this is the best way for experiential learning. Youngsters today learn better through hands-on activities and pick up core values of togetherness, respect and teamwork very well.” Said Dr. Teh, Executive Director of GPF Malaysia. The ‘Jungle Tracking’ activitity challenged them in an uncomfortable circumstances and made them wet and dirty. Nevertheless a strong spirit of togetherness transcending cultural background were developed instantly.
In an evening session called “Heart to heart”, the participants were encourage to share their heart to their selected partner. Many participants could share their growing-up stories for the first time to a new friend and a noticeble closeness with their team members was developed.
“I am known for being a troublemaker at school. Even the teachers have been fed up with my behaviours,” said Amirul Rasul, one of the at-risk youth who participated in MF Leadership Camp. “But I am willing to change. I learned so much here on the importance of leadership, teamwork and helping each other especially the one in needs. I could understand better that we have to study and work hard for success. I hope MF program can help me to change my path to be a better person.”
GPF Malaysia has long ties to serve youth, families and communities throughout its programs. Together with Department of National Unity and Integration (JPNIN) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC), GPF Malaysia organises MF program that aims to transform lives of at-risk youth. The first and second MF program was held in 2010 and 2011 respectively with a total of 83 participants from nine different schools. The schools and families have testified on significant improvement of attitude and behaviours of these students whom once were seen as troubled teens.