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It’s an honour to be invited to host the Health Promotion Board’s “Not So Secret Lives of Us” segment today at the 8th Singapore Aids Conference 2012 here at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore. 

From the results of the surveys conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), it was increasingly alarming to learn that more youths are being sexually active at a younger age. The median age of initiation of sexual intercourse was as young as 15 years old. 

We can think of many possible reasons to account for these findings. Among them, curiosity among youths no doubt plays a huge part. Changing societal norms, coupled with the sensationalization of sexual deeds and misdeeds in the press too are contributing factors. 

Besides targeting youths through school programmes, targeted programmes and peer-led programmes, HPB has also harnessed the use of multimedia, especially the internet. 

Started in 2008, the
“Not So Secret Lives of Us” (NSSL) initiative is one of HPB’s continuous efforts to make use of youth-centric social media such as Facebook, banner advertisements and youth bloggers to reach out to youths. This initiative was aimed at provoking readers’ interest and emotions, compelling them to think about their own attitudes towards sex and relationships. Messages on sexuality and HIV/AIDS were woven into the content. 

Originally in the form of daily blog updates on the happenings of the lives of four characters, the NSSL has proven to be so popular among youths such that HPB has continued the campaign for two seasons. 

This year in its third season, we are delighted to share with our audience what can be considered an industry first – an interactive film reuniting all four characters from the previous two seasons. The four protagonists are on holiday in Thailand in search of a good time in a club. Faced with difficult choices to make such as leaving the club for a quick tryst or staying behind (resisting such temptation), this unique movie experience which was directed by award-winning director Boo Junfeng, allows viewers to make decisions on behalf of the characters, influence the way the story unfolds, and get to see the consequences of their choices. 

Having completed my hosting duty and touring the various booths from the various organisations, here are three pointers I would like to impress upon everyone. 

First, your life is the sum of your choices. Every choice we make has a direct and indirect consequence. And we have to be responsible for all the choices we make. 

Second, abstinence is still the safest and most effective form of protection against STI/HIV and unwanted pregnancies. If you really must engage in sexual activity, please use a condom. Check the expiry date and use a water-based condom to protect yourself. 

Third, alcohol and drugs impair our judgment to think rationally. When we cannot think rationally, we are no longer in control of our actions. Under such influence, we may do things which we might regret later as our actions may lead to unwanted consequences.

Let's make this world a safer and more beautiful place for ourselves and our next generation!


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One of the biggest lessons I have learnt as an entrepreneur is that of forming supportive teams. As the word itself suggests, T.E.A.M also stands for “together everyone achieves more”.
 
Because we have the strong backing and support of a team, we are all able to share resources, grow faster and reap higher returns.
 
This week, I again witnessed the phenomenal magical power of leveraging on a team :)
 
Being chosen as the official grooming workshop provider for the entire Secondary 2 student cohort of North Vista Secondary School gave me the confidence to put leverage into practice. I came down with my team of image consultants.

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Grooming is a topic that is close to all our hearts. Regardless of age, gender or culture, it is a universal language that should be embraced by all. And there is nothing more encouraging that seeing more and more schools engaging training providers like my company to provide personal grooming training for students. It is always good to start young. Remember the age old saying “it takes only three days to pick up a bad habit, but three years to inculcate a good one?”
 
If you ask me, personal grooming means different things to different people. But generally, I would take the term ‘personal grooming’ to refer to a set of socially accepted norms, behavior and attire. To put it simply, people expect us to wear certain clothes and behave in a certain manner when meeting certain people. The three most commonly sought after topics include grooming and poise, social etiquette, and dining etiquette.
 
Returning back to the classrooms after so many years, the image consultants and myself knew our task was not to overwhelm the students with our knowledge. Instead, like what the teachers had hoped, to get them involved in experiential learning such as games, exercises and hands-on activities. That, exactly sums up the two day grooming workshop syllabus I had planned for North Vista Secondary School.
 
Leaving nothing to chance, I had weaved in interesting activities at various stages in between the slides and handouts. Being students once, we know the importance of supplementing our lesson notes with hands-on activities as human beings learn best when all the faculties are engaged simultaneously.
 
I wish I could have turned back time and my school back then had such grooming workshops for us. It would have been the perfect morale booster as the skills learnt are truly lifeskills not found in textbooks. After all, human beings are impressionistic visual creatures and the first impression is always the most lasting impression.
 
The first day focused on the essentials of grooming such as hair care, nail care, teeth care and skincare. Among all these topics, skincare proved to be the perennial favourite among the students. Students this age have begun to understand the importance of looking good. Nobody loves having pimples or acne on their face. Similarly, nobody wants to have dandruff on their hair.
 
Moving along, choosing the right clothes and the appropriate styles was a close second all-time favourite. Should one wear stripes or solid colours? Should you choose A-line skirts over pencil skirts?
 
Fast forward to the second day and in order to inject some additional element of fun and excitement, we got the students to bring along two sets of clothes – one set for an casual outing (think movies, outside meal) and another set for an executive look. The idea was not for them to spend extra money to buy clothes. Rather, the intention was for the students to find whatever clothes they had in their wardrobe that fitted the theme. They could also borrow clothes from their dads or mums.
 
For the students who brought their clothes, it was a joy to watch them in their executive and casual outfits.
 
Personal grooming is not a hard science. It is an soft art, a people art. Once we master how to impress at first sight, we are set on the route of confidence and future success.
 
Thank you, students. Thank you to all my fellow image consultants. It was a very enjoyable and memorable grooming workshop project.

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