The 15- and 16-year-old secondary school students who took part in this year’s The Media Challenge (TMC) are often described as “digital natives”, so it was apt that their task was to champion a social cause and digitally market it through social media platforms.
The winner for this annual event organised by RP’s Diploma in Mass Communication was Raffles Girls’ School’s Teens Next Door. The team of five students championed neighbourliness and creating connections with people via a specially created website as well as popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The team beat 27 others from a total of 21 secondary schools who took part in the competition, walking away with $2,000 cash. The runner up was Westwood Secondary School’s Verbal Anatomy and third prize went to Marsiling Secondary School’s Adrenaline.
RGS’s Fatima Siddiqui, 15, explained their motto ‘Familiar strangers, future friends’: “Every day, when we live our lives, we see some people around us very often but we don’t even take the time or the energy to go and say hi. We felt we just needed that little push for us to go and create the connection between people and that’s when the magic starts.”
Judges were impressed with how well they researched, packaged and presented their cause over the course of the competition from Mar 18 to Apr 5. Their infectious “neighbourliness” was evident on the final day of TMC when they went around handing balloons to the other competitors with encouraging messages written on them.
RP Senior Lecturer Harjit Kaur, who was their staff mentor, said: “Kindness and generosity were really part of their nature and character and it could be seen how they would greet everyone. So they really walked the talk of their social cause.”
While the RGS girls enjoyed the process, it was quite a challenge for others. Claudia Park Kyu Li, 15, the leader for Greendale Secondary School’s Funky Monkey team, said: “I needed to be very consistent in my work as it had to be done over a period of time. Everything needed a lot of planning.”
TMC head judge Prakash Somosundrum, 37, a board member at the National Youth Council, was impressed with what he saw from all the schools.
“Today what I saw was not an academic exercise, but where people learn from the tutors and the workshops and actually apply it in a very real life case study,” he said. “Honestly, you can be a very good student but if you can’t execute a project well and get people to buy into your idea, then you’re not doing very well in school. I think this was the perfect platform to see that, apply the knowledge of the classroom in the real world to see real results.”
TMC will return next year with a journalism theme, just like the inaugural event last year. Ms Joanna Lim, the staff in charge of TMC 2014, is confident the competition will grow into a strong platform for young people understand the way mass communication works in a new and exciting world. “The hard work our staff put in is rewarded when we see just how strong the participants are every year,” she said. “We look forward to seeing them again next year.’’