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5 Student-Led Initiatives That Are Changing The Malaysian Climate And Community

In today’s higher education scene, fostering student belonging is key. Colleges and universities worldwide are introducing extracurriculars to connect students beyond their studies. 

Student-led initiatives are springboards for students to ignite change and make a difference. Many of these initiatives are tackling societal and global issues showcasing the power of activism and the desire to make a difference.

Join us as we explore five dynamic student groups in Malaysia, advocating for a brighter, more inclusive future. We’ll dive into their missions, celebrate their successes, and see what they’re up to next. Let’s go!

#1: The Kalsom Movement 

The Kalsom Movement is a Malaysian non-profit organisation that focuses on empowering underprivileged students through education. Founded in 1994 by a group of Malaysian students studying in the United Kingdom, the movement aims to address educational inequalities and provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Malaysia[1].

From the Projek Kalsom Motivational Camp (PKMC) to the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Camp (EIC), and the Commonwealth Cultural Programme (CCP), each initiative not only addresses educational inequality but also cultivates the all-around development of its participants.

Over the past 25 years, this movement has positively impacted the lives of 5,000 students with the assistance of 1,000 coaches. In 2017, it reached a peak with 278 student participants, marking its highest engagement to date. 

The influence of The Kalsom Movement extends widely, with testimonials revealing significant improvements: a notable 28% increase in language proficiency, a significant 53% boost in verbal communication confidence, and an additional 39% improvement[2]. Moreover, an impressive 60% of students have shown tangible progress in their grades.

Click here to learn more about how you can join this remarkable journey and be a force for positive change.

#2: EmPOWER Crowdfunding Project @ Heriot-Watt University (Malaysia)

Source: Simply Giving

Check out the EmPOWER Crowdfunding Project, a game-changing initiative led by a group of forward-thinking students from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM). Their goal? To make a difference by supporting organisations facing resource constraints, especially during tough times like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and global conflicts[3].

Since its modest beginnings in 2022, this project has grown exponentially in impact. By 2023, it had mobilised nearly RM170,000 with the support of 400 students from 40 different groups to help NGOs across Malaysia. Notably, Nicol David Foundation, Kids Scuba Diveheart Malaysia, Lang Tengah Turtle Watch and FUGEE School Malaysia Federation of the Deaf[4].

EmPOWER as an initiative is also a cornerstone of the innovative HWUM EmPOWER programme. They have also previously conducted a workshop in 2019 and 2020 about Redefining Your Future (READ), a workshop for children to catch up with their studies no matter their capabilities and to enhance their self-confidence, soft skills and communication skills. 

The initiative ventures beyond academics, it introduces hands-on learning, soft skills development, and empowering students to thrive in any environment. Keep an eye on their next moves here—it’s bound to be inspiring!

#3: Water Warriors @ University of Malaya

Meet the eco-champions of the University of Malaya’s (UM) Water Warriors. Founded in 2013, this passionate group emerged with one goal – to protect and revitalise UM’s beloved Tasek Varsiti[5]. Currently, they’ve expanded their mission to tackle bigger projects like the Sungai Petani cleanup, showing their dedication to environmental conservation.

Led by UM alumni Affan Nasaruddin and Siti Norasiah Abd Kadir, Water Warriors is a movement dedicated to raising awareness about environmental conservation. From fun workshops like “Creepy, Crawly, and Aquatic” to digital campaigns like “Kita Jaga Air,” with Air Selangor, they’re making waves in water conservation.

From just volunteers, our efforts were soon recognised by the University. Water Warriors was then upgraded into a Living Lab project, giving us more opportunities to collaborate with researchers, development staff, and student volunteers. – Water Warriors Representative[6] 

But their impact goes beyond UM’s campus. They’re sparking change in communities far and wide. From their transformative Sungai Petani initiative to engaging workshops and influential digital campaigns, Water Warriors is on a mission to create a greener, more sustainable future. Want to know what they’re up to next? Click here to dive deeper into their upcoming projects.

#4: IMU Student Dietetics and Wellness Clinic

Source: Health Today

Introducing an innovative healthcare endeavour: the IMU Student Dietetics and Wellness Clinic at the International Medical University (IMU). Run by final-year students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science (Hons) Dietetics with Nutrition program within IMU’s esteemed School of Health Sciences, this clinic is a beacon of hope for tackling Malaysia’s nutritional challenges head-on.

Officially opened in 2023, the clinic showcases IMU’s dedication to public health. Specialising in evidence-based dietary consultations, it targets chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer[7]. Individuals receive personalised guidance to tailor meals to their health needs and lifestyles. From meal planning to nutrition education, the clinic offers a range of services designed to support long-term wellness. It’s a collaborative effort, giving people the tools to take control of their well-being.

IMU’s mission with the clinic is to not only provide opportunities for dietetics, it’s about empowerment. The clinic reaches out to underserved communities, bridging nutritional gaps among those who have limited access to dietitians or awareness of nutrition. 

We also hope to collaborate with non-governmental organisations and long-term care facilities serving underprivileged communities to provide nutritional care advice to ensure an improved nutritional status of the Malaysian community. – SDC project leader Evon Lee[8]

 Click here to dive deeper into their consultations and how they’re shaping a healthier tomorrow.

#5: SEFB Sanitary Pad Bank @ Universiti Utara Malaysia

Source: Sinar Harian

In the bustling corridors of the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Kedah School of Economics, Finance, and Banking, a remarkable initiative is taking shape, sparking hope and driving change. 

Led by the determined spirit of third-year student Khausalya Chandran, the “SEFB sanitary pad bank” emerges as a tool of empowerment and compassion, dedicated to ending period poverty and promoting student well-being. This initiative aims to provide free menstrual hygiene products to students who may struggle to afford them.

Fueled by a deep understanding of the financial struggles students face and the harsh reality of limited access to affordable menstrual hygiene products, Khausalya rallied a diverse team of 15 individuals, including eight males, to join this transformative mission[9].

Operating on a tight budget, the project thrives thanks to the generosity of external sponsors, ensuring that no student is left behind in their pursuit of education and dignity. With over 1,000 sanitary pads distributed to date, the project serves as a lifeline for students facing the hardships of period poverty, a condition where individuals cannot afford menstrual hygiene products due to financial constraints, leading to potential health risks and barriers to education and participation in daily activities[10].

Moreover, the impact of this initiative resonates throughout UUM, from sparking discussions to breaking taboos and nurturing a culture of inclusivity and support. From offering essential aid to students to raising awareness about menstrual hygiene, the project embodies the spirit of community-driven change. Click here to follow their Instagram page to stay updated 

Are you familiar with any other student-driven initiatives or movements that have made significant positive contributions in Malaysia? Feel free to reach out and share your insights with us!

Explore our sources:

  1. United Nations. The Kalsom movement | Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Link
  2. ISSUU. (2020). The Kalsom Movement 25th Edition Annual Report. Kuala Lumpur. Link
  3. Heriot-Watt University. (2023). HWUM students raise over RM100,000 in crowdfunding. Link
  4. Peter, L. J. (2022). A crowdfunding project to change the world. BERNAMA. Link
  5. Ying, L. C. (2022). Water warriors bring Universiti Malaya’s Varsity Lake Back to Life. The Star. Link
  6. Wix. (2018). Our story. Water Warriors 2018. Link
  7. Choon, L. T. (2023). IMU opens the first free student-led Dietetics & Wellness Clinic in Malaysia. Health Today. Link
  8. Lian, G. L. (2023). IMU students offer Free Dietetics Services. The Star. Link
  9. Morhan, S. (2023). Alleviating period poverty at varsity. The Sun. Link
  10. Thanapal, K. (2023). First Sanitary Pad Bank Project in Universiti utara Malaysia. Varnam MY. Link

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